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Roundup of iPhone and iPad Apps for Online Social Networking

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In this article, Jason R. Rich introduces you to just some of the apps that you can use to actively participate on the various online social networking services, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn using your iPhone or iPad. Share your thoughts; interact with friends, family, coworkers or total strangers; share photos; and more from virtually anywhere there’s a 3G or Wi-Fi connection available.

In recent years, people around the world have adopted a new way to communicate. Instead of talking on the phone, sending written letters, or even conversing via email.

More and more people are relying on online social networking services, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, to do the following:

  • Communicate with friends and family
  • Stay in touch with coworkers
  • Reconnect with past coworkers, acquaintances, and classmates
  • Share photos and videos
  • Share thoughts and opinions with like-minded strangers
  • Promote themselves and their businesses
  • Solicit new business and/or promote their product(s) or service(s)

For the iPhone and iPad, a handful of specialized apps are available that make it very simple to manage your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and/or LinkedIn accounts anytime and anywhere.

Start by downloading the free "official" app for each service in which you’re active. These apps include the following:

  • The official Twitter app (free) is available as a hybrid iPhone/iPad app. It can be downloaded from within the Settings app (as well as from the App Store). Plus, Twitter functionality has been incorporated into several apps that come preinstalled with iOS 5, including Photos, Safari, Maps, and YouTube.
  • Facebook offers an official app for both the iPhone and iPad. Having been recently redesigned, these apps now give you access to the majority of Facebook’s most popular features and functions.
  • The official Google+ and LinkedIn apps are both free iPhone apps that also work flawlessly on the iPad.

These apps, and other app like them, allow you to take full advantage of your iPhone or iPad’s built-in cameras and GPS capabilities as you create and publish content and participate within these vast online communities.

Using the Official Twitter App

When you first upgrade to iOS 5, you'll need to install the official Twitter app on your device, plus add your existing Twitter account information to the Settings app. This will allow you to begin sending tweets from within other iOS 5 apps.

The fastest way to accomplish both of these tasks is to launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad; then, from the main Settings menu, tap the Twitter option.

If you already have a Twitter account, and want to be able to send tweets from several popular iOS 5 apps, you’ll need to enter your existing Twitter account username and password into the Settings app. From the Twitter menu screen in Settings, tap the Add Account option and enter your account information.

After it's configured to work with your Twitter account, you can also manage one or more Twitter accounts using the official Twitter app. On the iPad, the commands for doing this are displayed on the left side of the screen.

On the iPhone, the main commands for using Twitter are displayed as icons at the bottom of the official Twitter app screen. Near the upper-left corner of the screen, you'll see a left-pointing arrow icon labeled Accounts, which leads to the Account Management screen of the app. At the upper-right corner of the screen is the Create Tweet icon used for composing new outgoing tweets.

The main screen area is where your Twitter feed (or Timeline) is displayed. Along the bottom of the screen, from left to right, you'll see the Timeline, Mentions, Messages, and Search icons, along with an icon composed of three dots. This icon is used to access additional commands for managing your Twitter account, such as accessing the My Profile menu, viewing a listing of tweets marked as Favorites, and accessing functions associated with creating and managing lists.

Composing an Outgoing Tweet

Using the official Twitter app, to compose an outgoing tweet, tap the Create Tweet icon. When the New Tweet screen appears, begin composing your tweet. Remember, you have up to 140 characters per tweet.

At the bottom of the New Tweet window are four icons. The @ symbol is used to address your tweet to a specific person or to mention specific Twitter users within a tweet. The # symbol is used to identify a topic or subject within a tweet. Tap the camera-shaped icon to either take a photo using your iOS device's built-in camera or attach a photo to your tweet that's already store on your device. Tap the diagonal-pointing arrow icon to manually attach your exact location to the tweet using your device's GPS capabilities.

To keep your tweets short, it's acceptable to use abbreviations. To send your tweet after it's composed, tap the Send icon that's displayed in the upper-right corner of the New Tweet window.

Replying to Tweets

As you're viewing your Timeline, if there's a tweet from someone else that you want to reply to, tap that tweet listing and then tap the Reply icon. On the iPhone, a separate Reply screen appears. On the iPad, the Reply window is displayed on the right side of the screen.

How to Re-Tweet Messages

As you're reviewing your Timeline, which includes tweets composed by the various people you're following, if you stumble upon a particular tweet that you'd like to share with your own Twitter followers, instead of retyping the message from scratch, select it and then tap the Re-Tweet option to copy that tweet and allow you to send it to your followers from your Twitter account.

How Twitter Now Integrates with Popular iOS 5 Apps

Initially, Safari, Photos, Maps, Camera, and YouTube are among the preinstalled iOS 5 apps to offer true Twitter integration. However, many third-party app developers are also starting to include this functionality in their own apps.

Many apps that have a Share icon, which allows you to send app-specific content to someone else via email or SMS/MMS message, also now offer a Tweet option that enables you to compose and share a tweet from within that app.

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