Hands On: Skimmer Adobe AIR App "Skims" All Your Social Media Feeds
Social networking is so complicated these days. Twitter is spreading like wildfire, but it's still too premature to cancel your Facebook account. Add in Flickr photo feeds, and YouTube and you've got enough time-wasters to pass the day. Skimmer, a new free app, is an Adobe AIR app that allows you to keep tabs on all your different feeds using a single desktop interface. Right now, it supports Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Flickr, and YouTube. For the latter two, you can also upload photos and video from the Skimmer dashboard. We got hands on with the app. Check out our first impressions, and if it's your cup of tea, you can download it here. (Note: you can't download it until you install Adobe AIR.) Modern Interface We often come close to overusing the word "slick" to describe software and Web interfaces, but in Skimmer's case, it's an apt description. Although there are seven color schemes to choose from, all have an understated neutral feel. The default has a black background with white and gray accents, which reminds us of many Adobe apps we've tested, including Photoshop.com. All of the icons have a faint font color until you roll over them, at which point the letters become black. There are few tabs to choose from: along the left side you'll see a tab for each social network you've added. On top are icons for settings, preferences, home, and editing your profile. Then, there's lots of blank space in the middle for viewing your feeds, photos, and videos. As is to be expected with beta software, this first version had a few bugs. For the most part, it performed as it was supposed to, but occasionally we clicked on fields and the program didn't respond. Adding Accounts When it comes to Skimmer, the key is quailty, not quantity. There are only five social networks to choose from at the moment, which is a shame, but the ones they chose to launch with are, undoubtedly, the most popular: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr (Blogger might be debatable). Adding our accounts was easy. In the case of Twitter, you just enter your username and password, Skimmer verifies your information, and then you're set. For Facebook and Flickr, you'll be taken to a screen on those sites, where you'll click a button authorizing access. It's all quick, simple, and you only do this once. One Giant Feed Skimmer takes an elegant, minimalist approach to combining your Facebook and Twitter feeds. It shows everything from status updates and new photos form the former and, obviously, new status updates from the latter. But Skimmer places each update on one line, which gives the feed a suprrisingly uncluttered look. There's also an icon to the left of each update, so you can tell at a glance if it comes from Facebook or Twitter. There's a timestamp next to each one, and you can use one of three icons to toggle the size of each update onscreen. There's a refresh button, but you can also set Skimmer to automatically update as often as every 5 minutes, or as seldom as everythree hours. Photos and Video Our Flickr photostream looked gorgeous in Skimmer's interface. A single photo takes up a good portion of the main pane, but there's an attractive filmstrip lining the bottom. You can click a link to see the photo in Flickr (we found the program slow to respond when we did this, though) as well as post a comment. If you have contacts on Flickr you can see their photos, too. YouTube, similarly, allows you to upload from the desktop and view friends' videos. The Verdict Skimmer is sleekly designed, and minimally buggy considering it's a first release. It could use more social networks, although the ones it has at launch are, at least, the most popular. That said, we're still mulling over the usefullness. Whether you prefer to let Adobe AIR let you social network from the desktop is, ultimately, a matter of personal preference. For many people, it's easier to leave several tabs open, and just refresh them when you feel like it. For savvy users used to using network-specific AIR apps, such as TweetDeck, the desktop environment will feel right at home.