At first, I thought this sounded like only half an idea. There are already some great Twitter clients in the Mac software space, most of which have integrated search functions built right in, so how does Incoming! carve out a niche by offering search alone? What I found out was that depending on your Twitter habits, it might actually be the only app you need.
What it offers is a very robust search manager, well above and beyond what the average built-in Twitter search in other clients provide. You can filter results by matching exact phrases, finding any or all of multiple terms, or by exclusionary keywords (so that I can search for “Apple” but exclude “Pie,” for instance). You can even specify positive or negative attitudes (which just searches for a smiley or frowny emoticon, but it works), or specify that you want only questions.
The interface also provides lots of options for filtering your tweets and navigating between searches and trending topics. On the left, your searches appear in the sidebar, and are only removed when you click the “Remove Search” button. Below that list is a pane containing trends. Double-clicking on any trending term will automatically create a search for said term. On the right you have your list of results and the actual tweet-viewing window. You can filter results by influence, username, following/follower count, updates and date.
At no point during any of this do you log into your Twitter account or post any tweets of your own. Some users will no doubt find this bothersome, and question the app’s usefulness, but if you use Twitter for research as much as I do, the arm’s length passivity of Incoming! is just what the doctor ordered. It might also appeal to people who don’t yet want to take the Twitter plunge themselves by signing up for an account, but want access to all the content that’s available via the service, in a much more manageable package than Twitter.com’s own search page.
For those who absolutely need to reply and retweet, you still can; Incoming! just opens the native Twitter web interface to allow you to do so. The application also has some nice extras, like allowing you to export your results to a CSV database file format, providing “Translate” and “Translate All” options, and allowing you to instantly see all of the links and images your search has returned taken out of their individual tweets. It’s the closest thing to a Google for Twitter I’ve yet come across.
The software is currently in beta, which I think explains why the auto-refresh function wasn’t working for me. It’s free, so long as you only want to run three searches at once. Registration removes the search limit cap, and costs $14 while the beta is on, or $24 after that.