Beta Roundup: Social Networking, Twitter and Messaging Clients

853828_betaInternet-based communication is changing so quickly these days that there seems to be an endless stream of beta releases. Yesterday, Simon wrote about some of the latest browser betas; let’s look at a few products and services for interacting with social networks, Twitter and instant messaging.

I don’t generally like living on the bleeding edge, but some betas are very usable, and I’ve already incorporated them into my daily workflow. Others look promising, but are not stable or are lacking too many features right now. But all of the following are worth trying, and watching as they develop. We’ll review them more thoroughly as they mature.

Adium is my favorite IM client for the Mac OS. Its latest beta supports all of the instant messaging protocols, and also has rudimentary support for Twitter and Facebook Chat. Unfortunately, the latter is not working as I write this, although a fix is expected shortly.

VoxOx is an ambitious program combining IM; social networks (Facebook, MySpace and Twitter); SMS texting; faxing; private email; file sharing; video conversations; and voice connections. As I wrote a few days ago, it is very rough around the edges now, and desperately needs improved tools for managing contacts.

Imo.im is a web-based multi-system instant messaging client with some intriguing features, like shared whiteboards. This service is listed as being in alpha, so we can assume that it has considerable development ahead of it.

Brizzly is a web-based service that looks a lot like Twitter’s own web interface, but with improvements. It supports multiple Twitter accounts and has recently added Facebook support. The multiple accounts aren’t as well integrated as I would like, but I assume that will come.

Tweetminer is another web-based service that includes support for multiple Twitter accounts, tweet scheduling, and RSS feeds. Its interface is attractive, but features are minimal at the moment. There are also Adobe AIR or Fluid-based desktop versions, for those who prefer standalone apps.

Socialite (formerly EventBox, which Imran wrote about here) has just released beta 2, which seemingly broke support for Facebook updates. When this issue is fixed, Socialite could become my favorite, as it combines support for Facebook, Facebook Pages, multiple Twitter accounts, RSS feeds and Google Reader in one attractive interface.

Seesmic Desktop is another Twitter and Facebook program which has worked well for me, but it shares with many Adobe AIR programs some ugly screen fonts and a propensity for using large amounts of memory. Seesmic also has a promising web version, but so far, it lacks support for multiple Twitter accounts, and for Facebook.

Nambu only does Twitter, but does it very well, in what I think is the most attractive interface of any program of its type. I can choose three different layouts, and switch between them easily. Nambu’s development is very rapid, with a new beta released every couple of days.

I find the popular Tweetdeck to be totally unreadable and unusable, due to its AIR interface. I wish Adobe would make AIR on the Mac look as good as the native OS X fonts and windows.

There are lots more betas out there, of course. What beta software and services do you use?

Image credit: Stock.xchng user OmirOnia

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