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I was fortunate to receive a Zune HD during the Mobius Conference a few weeks ago, so I was able to have a close look at the applications for the Zune HD.

Last week I noticed that the Microsoft Zune Team announced a new Twitter application in the marketplace for the Zune HD. In this article I will have a walk through of the latest Twitter client for the Zune HD.

The screenshot below shows you an overview of the Zune Marketplace section in the Zune software on my Windows 7 powered Lenovo X60 tablet.

Zune Marketplace on Windows Desktop

As you can see there is an overview of applications for the Zune HD in the Zune Marketplace on your Windows desktop. However you can see that the Zune Marketplace also consists of “picks” , “music”, “videos” “podcasts” and a “channels” section. However let’s focus on the apps for Zune HD, and remark the categories on the left side of the screenshot “games” and “other”.

In addition you can clearly see in the screenshot that the Twitter client for Zune HD is on the number one spot on the overview page of the apps for Zune HD section. When you click on the Twitter graphic, the product page of the Twitter client for Zune HD is opened. The screenshot below gives you an idea of this product page.

I would like to highlight a few points in the screenshot above. At first you see the title of the application pretty big on the first line, while just below that you can see the version number, the application type and copyright information. Furthermore you can see a button where you can download the application for Zune HD to your Windows Desktop, and below the button you will find a short application description. Finally you can see an overview with 5 screenshots, that give you an idea about how Twitter for Zune HD looks like.

Remarkable is the version number 1.1 , because within a day the Microsoft Zune team released an upgrade to address an issue with the Twitter client:

“The recently released Twitter for Zune HD application has been abbreviating some explicit words in tweets when viewed on the device; however these explicit words do appear in their full text on the Twitter site or on any other Twitter client. We have identified the issue and are taking steps to update the application as soon as possible to ensure Twitter for Zune HD users are able to view tweets in their original state.” – Microsoft spokesperson

Jason Dunn, Windows Mobile MVP and Editor in Chief of Thoughts Media has written an excellent article on ZuneThoughts “The Zune HD Twitter App & Curse Words“, which outlines the issue with curse words and looks at it from different interesting perspectives.

Twitter Client on Zune HD

Allright let’s start quickly with the application overview of the Twitter client for Zune HD. In the right picture above you see the mainscreen of th Zune HD, and at the bottom you can see the apps menu-item. If you tap on this item, a list of installed applications is shown, and I scroll down till I see the Twitter application. This is shown in the right picture, and by tapping on the Twitter text an about screen is opened with some basic information about the application. If you tap on the Twitter graphic the Twitter application starts.

When the Twitter application starts and the Wi-Fi radio on the Zune HD is turned off, you will get a “pop-up”  to turn on Wi-Fi while you see the connecting process to the accesspoint of -in my example- the home network. In the left picture you see the start screen, where you need to fill in the account credentials, while an onscreen keyboard slides up when you tap on a textbox.

I must admit the onscreen keyboard works pretty accurate, despite the fact that the width is relative small (in comparison with the HTC HD2 for example). However if you practice a little you easily get used to the onscreen keyboard of the Twitter application.

In the right picture you see the Twitter client in action. In the top row just below the Twitter logo you see 4 tabs and in the picture the first tab is selected: “Friends Timeline“. Probably most of you are familiar with Twitter clients so you see the other tabs consist of “Mentions”, “Favourites” and “Direct Messages”.

Just below this top row with icons you see another row, which shows the text “Timeline” in dark capitals. In light grey characters you see the text “Following” and with a swype you can easily switch to the next screens “Following” and “Followers“. Dependant of the selection in the top row the commands in the bar are different. For example in the case of the Direct Messages you can switch between the “Inbox” and “Sent” items.

Furthermore you see a “refresh” button to refresh the timeline manually, while below you can see a number of tweets in the timeline. At the bottom you can finally see a toolbar with 4 circular buttons:

  1. Back button;
  2. Create tweet or DM;
  3. Search Twitter;
  4. Settings;

The left picture above shows the screen where you can write a tweet or direct message and as you can see the main program layout is still active (two top rows and the toolbar at the bottom). Just above the text box you can see two additional circular buttons. The left one opens a list with followers, alphabetically ordered, so you can select one or more to @reply to them. The right button can be used to add the title of the song and artist currently playing on the Zune HD to a tweet or direct message. As you can see in the left picture the track Alive from Pearl Jam was playing on my Zune HD.

The right picture above shows the screen when I tap on the search button in the bottom toolbar. It simply opens a search box via which you can search on Twitter. Again the onscreen keyboard slides up as soon as you tap on the search box. Finally the settings screen just shows your Twitter-name, the number of followers and the number of following, while you can furthermore view the terms on the Twitter website.

Concluding thoughts and wrap-up

For an excellent summarizing overview I would like to highly recommend the article  “Video walk through the Zune HD Twitter app” from Matthew Miller, Editor of the Mobile Gadgeteer blog on ZDNet.

At first I would like to remark that the Zune HD is a great lightweight and very functional multimediaplayer, like you can see on the main menu in one of the pictures above. By adding applications or games on the Zune HD you can even increase the functionality. Personally I haven’t added much games, but loaded the Calculator application and the MSN Weather application on the Zune HD.

The Twitter client is another great extension, which is easy to use and easy to navigate. Furthermore I’m impressed with the accuracy and usability of the onscreen keyboard. Almost all the basic functionality you want in a Twitter client is there, yes almost.

At first I was searching for the hashtag #, and thanks to Matthew Miller this is a little hidden in the keyboard structure (“123” and “shift”). Personally I do miss the ability to retweet in this Twitter client for Zune HD, and I truly hope that the Microsoft Zune Team will include this in the next version of this application.

On the other hand I would like to compliment the Zune Team for working hard on the problem as outlined in the “The Zune HD Twitter App & Curse Words” article on ZuneThoughts.com and releasing an application update in a very short timeframe !! Furthermore it is really cool, to easily include the currently playing song in a tweet you sent from your Zune HD.

Overall the Zune HD is an awesome multimediaplayer which is incredibly powerful and functional. With applications like the Twitter client it becomes possible to keep track of your social network as well. I hope to see the great Facebook application for Windows Mobile become available in a Zune HD variant as well !!