I don't know if you've noticed, but Android is kind of going bonkers for bubbles.
Bubbles first went big with Facebook's "chat heads" setup and have slowly but surely been showing up in other places ever since. One of my favorite bubble-based apps is Link Bubble, which opens links in floating, movable bubbles that you tap to view whenever you want.
Now, the bubble concept is coming to Twitter. A new app called Tweet Balloon puts Twitter into a movable bubble on your screen -- and gives you easy pop-up access to your timeline whenever you want it.
It's an interesting concept -- and fairly well-executed, too: Once you activate it, the Tweet Balloon bubble floats at the left side of your screen. Anytime you tap it, your full Twitter timeline appears in a window on top of whatever else you're doing. You can scroll through the tweets, refresh the timeline, or post a new tweet right then and there.
The nice thing about Tweet Balloon is that its bubble automatically hides itself to stay out of your way as much as possible when you aren't using it. The bubble slowly recedes more and more off-screen over time, and you can always move it to a corner to make it less intrusive, too. When you want to get rid of it altogether, you simply tap the bubble and drag it down to an "x" that appears at the bottom of the screen.
Tweet Balloon includes a more standard full-fledged app as well, and it's pretty nicely designed, with customizable columns and a clean, card-based UI. Fittingly enough, the app uses code from Tweet Lanes -- the now-open-source project created by the same developer behind Link Bubble -- so a lot of its UI actually comes from that project.
Tweet Balloon is by no means perfect: The app currently lacks support for multiple accounts, for instance, and its introductory screens have some cringe-inducing broken English. A little copy editing would go a long way in helping this app make a better first impression.
I'd also like to see a little more customization in the bubble portion of the app, which is clearly its distinguishing feature; as of now, there's no way to switch that view over to show only mentions instead of showing your entire timeline.
But hey, it's a new app -- and warts and all, it's pretty darn clever. Oh yeah: And for the moment at least, it's completely free to use.
If you spend much time in Twitter, this one's well worth giving a whirl.