A.plus: Twitter App for Ashton Kutcher Fans
At a Glance
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Ashton Kutcher is the name behind--and plastered all over--this free, third-party Twitter app.
Given Ashton Kutcher's prominence on Twitter, it should come as no surprise that the actor has (with the help of UberMedia) launched his very own Twitter app. Called A.plus, the easy-to-use application offers a decent feature set. But be warned: If your tolerance for all things Ashton Kutcher is low (and I must confess mine is) chances are good that you will quickly tire of seeing his mug and his name plastered across your desktop.
Like many Twitter management tools, including TweetDeck (long considered the trendsetter in this category), A.plus features a column-style interface. Its red accents and background are attractive, and I found its overall look more appealing than TweetDeck's steely gray, all-business look.
Less appealing is the constant reminder of Kutcher's involvement with the app. A.plus devotes its first column to all things Kutcher: this "A+" panel displays Kutcher's Twitter feed, as well as that of his soon-to-be-ex-wife Demi Moore, and a few feeds of his choosing, such as his picks for culture, sports, tech, and more. It also displays ads, which are mostly unobtrusive. And while it is understandable that a free application might need to display advertising, it's harder to swallow when you consider that free rivals like TweetDeck manage to do without. Luckily, this panel is easily collapsible.
The middle column is where the real Twitter action takes place. By default, it displays your Twitter timeline and includes a handy search bar for calling up items you're seeking. Using the icons at the bottom of the screen, you can switch it to display your @mentions, direct messages, retweets, favorites, and more. While it delivers plenty of information, it would be nice if A.plus allowed you to view some of it side by side, as rival TweetDeck does.
A.plus does offer one key feature, and it's one that bests TweetDeck: LivePreview, its third (and final) column. When you click a hyperlink posted in a tweet, this panel lets you view Web-based content within A.plus, without opening a separate application. This cuts down on desktop clutter immensely, eliminating the multiple open windows that can often result from clicking hyperlinks within an application.
LivePreview alone is almost enough to win me over to A.plus. I don't even mind the application's singular focus on Twitter (you won't find support for Facebook--or any other social network here). It's the focus on Ashton Kutcher that leaves me unimpressed: The space that A.plus dedicates to Kutcher's Twitter feed and recommendations could be much better filled by the application's user instead.
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