Twitter for Blackberry: Pro tips

Shortcuts for the discerning user


BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) yesterday unveiled its first attempt at a mobile Twitter application: Twitter for BlackBerry smartphones. The app's currently only available to beta testers, including yours truly, unless of course you seek it out via "unofficial" channels.

Although I've only spent 24 hours with it, that time was more than enough time to ferret out the application's basic keyboard shortcuts... especially since there doesn't really seem to be many of them.

Twitter shortcuts

Here's quick list of keyboard shortcuts for RIM's new Twitter for BlackBerry app, followed by five more shortcuts that I think should be added to the app during the beta testing process. (RIM expects Twitter for BlackBerry to go public in about a month.)

Official Twitter for BlackBerry keyboard shortcuts

1. While in a message list, hit "R" to Reply to the message sender

2. While in a message list, hit "L" to Reply to the message sender and any other Twitter users mentioned by the sender with an "@" symbol, ie, "reply all"

3. While in a message list, click "C" to send a Direct Message to the Twitter user you highlighted

4. While in a message list, tap "T" to jump all the way to the top

5. While in a message list, tap "B" to jump all the way to the bottom

6. While in a message list, highlight a specific users' "tweet" and click "F" to repost, or "Retweet" that message to your followers

7. In a message list, tap the Space Bar at any time to "page down," or jump a page length down your Twitter feed.

8. In a message list, hold down either your Right Shift or Left Shift key, the buttons with upward-pointing arrows, and tap the Space Bar at any time to "page up," or jump a page length up your Twitter feed.

Next up, a handful of Twitter for BlackBerry keyboard shortcuts I'd like to see in a future build. Remember, RIM's new Twitter app is still in beta, and many new keyboard shortcuts and performance tweaks could be introduced before the app's officially launched.

Wanted Twitter for BlackBerry keyboard shortcuts

1. Twitter for BlackBerry needs a very basic shortcut for composing a new "tweet" or message at any point, from anywhere within the app. As is, users must return to the top of a message list and employ the fixed "What's happening" box to initiate a new tweet.

That's just frustrating, and you should be able to hit "N" for new message or "M" for message to either instantly return to the "What's happening" box or open up an all new box.

2. There's currently no "Refresh" shortcut key for Twitter for BlackBerry. This is a must have shortcut, and frankly, I'm a bit surprised RIM left this one out. I hope to see a single key, the "Q" or "P" keys, for example, employed as a refresh keyboard shortcut. Q and P are located at the top-left and top-right corners on full QWERTY BlackBerry keyboards and are therefore very easy to access.

3. I'd like to see a one-key shortcut to quickly "favorite" or mark a specific tweet for viewing later on. I frequently come across tweets from my followers that remind me of something I wanted to write about or that give me new story ideas. Twitter for BlackBerry would be more useful to me if I could favorite tweets via keyboard shortcut.

4. A "delete tweet" keyboard shortcut would also be a welcome addition to Twitter for BlackBerry. On occasion, I include a bad link or misspell a word in a tweet, and being the OCD wordsmith that I am, I immediately need to fix my mistake or it "haunts" me until I do.

It would be great if I could simply tap "D" or another key, with my own bad tweet highlighted and then quickly delete it. Some kind of delete-confirmation would be needed so you don't accidentally delete a message you wanted to keep. But that shouldn't be too much of a challenge for RIM's developers.

5. My final suggestion is not a completely new keyboard shortcut, but rather a modification of an existing shortcut: Twitter for BlackBerry keyboard shortcut number six listed above, or the "retweet" shortcut.

Twitter for BlackBerry's retweet shortcut uses Twitter's new annoying retweet format, which doesn't let you modify the text you're "retweeting" or add your own text to reposted messages. Sure, you could copy a follower's tweet, jump back to the What's Happening box, paste the copied text and then tweak it from there. But that's an awful lot of work considering a good retweet shortcut could do all of it for you.

RIM would be wise to tweak its retweet function to allow users to modify the text they're posting.

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