I work at home and can go days at a time only seeing my cats and my husband (occasionally confusing the two in my otherwise solitary existence), so social media lets me keep in touch with my friends and keep my sanity, such that it is. Besides being a fan of social media, I’m also a big fan of the Mac menubar, and I have lots of little apps up there that put me in contact with my friends. I’ve got Messages and an instant messaging app, I’ve got an email app, and I’ve got all my social network apps.
That’s a lot of apps, and only today my husband (or was it my cat?) asked what’s going to happen when I run out of room on my menubar. It’s time I consolidate, and SocialButterfly is going to help me do that. Four social networks in one, SocialButterfly is a menubar app that can replace at least a few of my icons up there. Does SocialButterfly have the features to replace the apps, though?
Keeping in Touch
SocialButterfly is, in essence, a collection of mobile apps. Hold the phone! What’s that? That’s right, SocialButterfly is bringing the mobile version of some great social networks to your menubar. Included are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Each service looks pretty much identical to the iOS version of each app. SocialButterfly is so similar to the mobile apps that when Facebook notified me of an unauthorized login (by SocialButterfly on my MacBook), it was logged as a mobile device.
Up top are the service icons that let you switch among the different social networks.
SocialButterfly doesn’t do anything the Facebook and Pinterest menubar apps I’ve been using don’t, but it’s nice to have them grouped together with LinkedIn. Whereas the standalone apps I use, like many available on the App Store, offer both desktop and mobile functionality, SocialButterfly offers only the mobile app. Which is fine, really. It’s a menubar app, combining four services in one; it’s not necessarily going to give you the same thing you’d get it you just logged into the website or used a single, dedicated app. That’s to be expected.
I’m conflicted, however, on the mobile Twitter app included. I love the mobile Twitter app on my phone. It’s just the best. It’s at least twice as good as the Twitter for Mac app. I’ve repeatedly bemoaned the fact that we got such a good mobile app but such a clunker for OS X. Sure, I could find an alternative in the App Store, but the free Twitter apps aren’t any better, and the paid apps, well, I’d have to sell a kidney.
Because I was logged into Twitter, my cat was left out in the cold.
And then here comes SocialButterfly, flaunting its mobile Twitter app, right there in the middle of my OS X. It’s so much easier to update my profile and settings. The search function makes sense and is more attractive. Tweet threads are easier to access and don’t ultimately force me onto the Twitter website. I really couldn’t be happier. Except that I can only login from one Twitter account; no account switching. How is my cat supposed to tweet if I’m the only one who can log in? He can’t, is the answer to that question. When asked via email, SimpleRocket, the developer of SocialButterfly, assured me they’re looking into making multiple account logins a reality, but until that happens this may be a dealbreaker for me and my cat.
This is a good looking app. I mean to tell you, SocialButterfly looks nice. The biggest part of that is the mobile apps, so very little of the design kudos goes to SocialButterfly. However, the window framing each service looks good, better than some of my other menubar social network apps, and the large buttons that control the menus are attractive. Just getting all of those disparate apps into a cohesive whole is nice, and SocialButterfly does a good job of making it seem as if all four services were always meant to be together.
I’ve never used the social network aspect of LinkedIn, but bundled with the other apps, it gives me a reason to poke around more.
Unfortunately, though, SocialButterfly comes with a truly ugly menubar icon. For an app that is otherwise so well designed, I really don’t know how it happened. Now, I know how to change that icon, and I bet some of you do, too, but a lot of you don’t or won’t feel comfortable messing around in the application resources. I hear that. Hopefully this icon gets fixed in a forthcoming update.
Pros and Cons
One of the big pros of SocialButterfly is that it’s not constantly lighting up that butterfly icon in my menubar or making a dinging noise or throwing something up in Notification Center. SocialButterfly is silent. It sits there quietly until I’m ready to check in with my friends on Twitter or Facebook or wherever, no browser window needed.
I had no way of knowing George Takei posted this cat picture. Is that good or bad?
The biggest con, though, is that it doesn’t ever notify me of anything! There are people who don’t participate in social media. They get it, they know what’s going on, but they just don’t feel the need to get involved. I am not one of those people. I want to get involved. When I have a new @reply or someone tags me in a picture, I want to know about it. Being a grownup person, I often choose not to load every single update as it happens; I can wait. But give me something, even just the ability to toggle notifications on and off!
Whether a lack of notifications is a pro or a con is up to you. Some people need quiet time, and I get that, but some want constant updates. And again, whether the lack of multiple logins for a single service is a con depends on the user. Unless you’re secretly running @chicken_ebooks or are in a power struggle with your cat, you probably only need to login with one account anyway.
The ease of having all four of these services in a single app, though, may make up for any other deficits in SocialButterfly. I was personally able to knock out three menubar icons while using the app, some pretty major screen real estate. That’s where SocialButterfly finds its wings, as a snazzy replacement for your other social network apps.