While most Twitter clients seem to be standardizing with an interface that uses columns to help users follow multiple feeds, Mixero is experimenting with something a bit different: a set of panels that let you quickly switch among your feeds and searches.
This beta desktop client may not work for everyone, but with a bit more development from the Mixero team, it could be something really outstanding.
What does Mixero do?
Mixero's interface offers the user three panels. The left panel shows the specific feed you're watching. The right panel has two tabs. The first lets you browse through your list of contacts and send each a private message, follow their feeds, or assign them to groups.
The second lists your "channels" - feeds that you have saved, such as keyword searches, user groups, etc. You create a channel by generating a feed in the left panel and double-clicking on a "Create channel" icon; after you name it, specify how often it will refresh, and choose an icon for it, the feed becomes a channel.
This is where the centre panel, which is called the ActiveList, comes in. By double-clicking on a channel, you put its icon in the ActiveList.
After that, all you have to do is click on the icon, and the feed is visible in the left panel; click on another icon, and that feed is active instead. (You can monitor how many new tweets have appeared in each channel; the numbers appear next to each icon.)
You can hide either the left or right panels if you wish. Each tweet includes icons that allow you to retweet, reply, etc. You can filter each feed using keywords.
Your own icon sits on top of the ActiveList; little icons clustered around it (that look like cartoon voice balloons) let you look at your replies or your direct messages.
Besides Windows PCs and Macs, Mixero also works with Linux-based computers, and according to the Web site, an iPhone version is in the works.
What's cool about Mixero?
This is an outstandingly slick interface, especially when you consider that it's still very much in beta. It's clean, easy to understand and attractive; while you can't follow several feeds simultaneously like you can in other clients, you can flip from one to another with ease.
You can even create what Mixero calls a "context" - a set of active channels. For example, you can have one context with all your business channels, and another with all your entertainment channels.
But the item that made me say "Hey, cool!" was Mixero's "Avatars mode," which you access by clicking on Mixero's symbol (which looks like an old-fashioned blade fan).
Your Twitter avatar and the icons of any channels you're following immediately dart over to the right-hand side of your display, where they stay visible but out of the way; the rest of the application disappears.
When a number appears on an icon indicating how many new tweets there are, you can hover over the number to see the tweets, or click on the icon to bring Mixero up again.
What needs to be fixed?
While you can quickly switch from feed to feed, the fact that you can't view more than one simultaneously may be a problem for some users. (You can open one or more feeds in separate windows, but this felt awkward to me.) And as of yet, while you can follow multiple Twitter accounts, there is no way to follow a Facebook account.
Finally, Mixero is currently in invitational beta mode; if you become a Mixero follower, the company will send you an invitation. The system is a bit awkward - I had to send for a second invitation because my version didn't want to update.
Mixero is very much a project in development, so expect new features and changes before it stabilizes. Right now, this has the potential to be an incredibly useful and innovative Twitter client - if the creators can add the features it needs without weighing it down.