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Summary:

Tired of the same old Twitter clients that simply show a scrolling list? The aptly-named Different Tack application could be just what you’re looking for. Based on decades of human information process insights, the software uses a colored scroll-wheel to navigate and interact with tweets.

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As much as I use and enjoy Twitter on my mobile devices, the constantly scrolling list of tweets is getting old. Maybe that’s why Different Tack, a Twitter app for Symbian, jumped out at me this morning. Instead of the standard list approach, Different Tack offers a multi-colored scroll wheel to quickly navigate through tweets. The free software is available now in the Ovi Store, but Fluid Interaction, the company that developed it, says versions are in the works for Google Android and Apple iOS devices.

The navigation wheel is used to scroll through tweets, which appear prominently on the top half of the display. You only see one tweet at a time, which brings focus. And the whole point of the wheel interface is to keep your eyes focused on the content. However, the wheel also provides information at a glance too: who’s tweeting, how many retweets (the bluer the tweet, the more popular it is), and if a tweet contains a link. Given that Different Tack is a highly visual experience, this short video demo best illustrates the approach, which uses the patented *Tack user interface:

Different Tack isn’t just a whimsical approach to mobile tweeting, though. The company says there are decades of science behind the user interface:

*Tack makes large quantities of data manageable and interactive, even within strict space constraints. The *Tack creates an infographic presentation of the data and allows direct interaction, making information browsing more engaging, efficient, and fun.

With RSVP (Rapid Series Visual Presentation), information is displayed in a fixed focal position to minimize the need for eye movements. It can be used for instance to increase individual reading speed. Different Tack uses it for helping users quickly index through tweets for keywords and thus facilitates browsing through large amounts of information quickly.

Sadly, Nokia’s Ovi Store isn’t cooperating with a Symbian review handset I have in-house, so I can’t experience Different Tack for myself just yet, although I’m not giving up. In the meantime, I did track down a detailed review of the software over at AndroSym and I like what I see, although as with any first software iteration, there’s room for improvement. Does this look too radical for you or do you think the Fluid Interaction folks are onto something here with Different Tack?

  1. Yes, this appears to be genuinely innovative. That said, it also clearly leverages (decades old) work in the categories of: Pie Menus and Polar/Radar Charts.

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  2. Hi Kevin,

    Which Symbian phone do you have? I’m running it on an N8. Downloaded it just now from:

    http://store.ovi.com/content/109289

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    1. I was trying to test on a C7; I know it works on an N8, but I don’t have one at the moment. I was able to get a version direct from the developer that’s working well on the C7. It takes some getting used to, but I’m really starting to like the UI. Any thoughts on your experience?

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      1. Ah, don’t have a C7 on me at the moment. It takes getting used to. I feel like I’m looking at my tweets on an old iPod Nano.

        One thing I do like is the ability to look at 40-odd tweets in one screen a quickly see which one is the most re-tweeted and jump right in.

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  3. It wants a one-time 13 MB download in the ovi store. Wondering then if it uses Qt..

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  4. Different tack is available for Nokia Astound now. Still free.

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