Though your mobile phone keeps you more connected, it can also make things more complicated. Using a cell phone to track e-mail, text messages, instant messages, voicemail, Facebook, and Twitter can be a burden--after all, these social networking applications attempt to shoehorn Web 2.0 resources onto small devices that weren't designed with Web 2.0 in mind.
Mobile-device manufacturers Motorola and Palm have taken things a step further by designing phones that merge different communications and social networks into a single tool, allowing you to interact with all of them from one spot. For a look at the future of mobile social networking, check out our reviews of the Palm Pre and the Motorola Cliq, as well as their respective social networking features, Synergy and MotoBlur.
You don't have to rush out and get a Palm Pre or Motorola Cliq to experience merged tools, though. You have a few other options to consolidate your social networks and messaging sources.
TweetDeck: Not Just for Twitter
One of the most popular tools for managing Twitter is TweetDeck. Released long before Twitter added Lists to its features, TweetDeck is a desktop application that enables users to create filtered groups to help cut down the noise and highlight the tweets that are most important.
The TweetDeck for iPhone app behaves in much the same way. And like the desktop program, it also allows you to add Facebook accounts to create a unified console for all of your messages and status updates. Once connected, you can add columns to TweetDeck to view status updates from your Facebook account.
To use the app, you must first get TweetDeck for iPhone from Apple's App Store. After the TweetDeck for iPhone app syncs to your iPhone, go into the app and then enter the settings by touching the gear icon at the bottom.
Under 'Facebook', touch to sign in and add your Facebook status updates to TweetDeck. The setup screen explains that you can 'Connect TweetDeck for iPhone with Facebook to interact with your friends in this app and to share stories on Facebook.'
Next you have to provide the e-mail address and password you use for your Facebook credentials. After you log in, you see two additional permission screens. The first allows TweetDeck for iPhone to read content from your Facebook account and display it in the app; the second permits TweetDeck for iPhone to post status updates to your Facebook profile.
Once your Facebook account is connected with TweetDeck for iPhone, you can add a column to your TweetDeck console for your default Facebook News Feed. If you have hundreds of Facebook contacts, though, the volume of status updates creates a great deal of noise and makes catching the ones you're interested in more difficult.
To bring order to your updates, first click the Add Column icon at the bottom of the TweetDeck for iPhone screen, and then select Facebook from the Choose Column Type screen that appears. You can pick from two types of Facebook Columns: All Friends, or Group.
The All Friends column displays the full News Feed, including status updates, photos, and other posts from your entire catalog of Facebook contacts. If you opt for Group, you can select a subset of your Facebook contacts, like family or high-school friends, and display only the updates from the Facebook contacts you choose.
Right now, the mobile TweetDeck app manages only Twitter and Facebook, and is available exclusively for iPhone. TweetDeck's developers have stated that they "are determined to eventually see TweetDeck available for other mobile platforms, such as Windows Mobile, Symbian, Blackberry and Android, but there are no timelines for these as yet."