You may think that Twitter is just good for followingcelebrities and swapping tweets with friends. But the social network iscapable of a lot more. Specialized services have tweaked it to turnordinary Twitter accounts into robots that can carry out helpful tasks.
Twitter bots, as they’re called,can help manage your calendar, tweet reminders, and even warn you–viaa tweet–of an earthquake. Here’s a look at some of the mostinteresting and useful Twitter bots.
Tweet Your Calendar
Even with the newest iPhone or Android device, settingup calendar events on the go can be annoying. For a simple way torecord new appointments while traveling, use Twitter Cal; it letsyou set a Google Calendar appointment with a simple tweet. After tyingTwitter Cal in to your Google Calendar account, you can tweet @GCal adirect message like gcal meeting with Anne tomorrow 10am to set up newappointments for yourself.
Let Your Plant Join Twitter
Botanicalls is a fun project that turns any ordinary house plant into atwitter user. Just stickthe $100 Botanicalls kit in the soil next to your favoriteplant and set up a twitter account for it. It will tweet you when itssoil is too dry and will even thank you for watering it.
Grab Spotify Playlists on Twitter
If you regularly use the streaming music service Spotify on your mobile phone, youmay be interested in Spotibot’sTwitter account. The Spotibotsite will generate a Spotify playlist of similar artists(aomething that Spotify itself isn’t especially helpful aboutproviding) when you tell it you love a particular band–the RollingStones, for instance. The @Spotibot account can perform the samefunction for you when you’re on the road. Just tweet @spotibot similartoo [your favorite band], and Spotibot will tweet you a playlist linkin just seconds.
Set a Twitter Timer
If you need to set a timer–to remind yourself to make a call, forinstance–but you aren’t wearing a watch, just use the Timer Twitteraccount instead. Follow @Timer on Twitter and then send Timer a directmessage like 60 call home. An hour later, Timer will send you a directmessage reminding you to make that call.
Make a Twitter “Friend”
James M.Titus may seem like a fairly unremarkable Twitter user with arespectable number of followers and a penchant for asking dopeyquestions like “What’s the worst advice you’ve ever taken?” and “Whatwas your first car?” In reality, Titus is the winner of a contest bythe WebEcology Project to create the most realistic Twitter bot inhistory. “Titus” managed to fool hundreds of people into following himback on Twitter during the contest and even managed to engage someusers in surprisingly long conversations consisting of dozens ofmessages. While Titus itself is now maintained just for fun, the workbehind it may serve as a basis for creating more-engaging bots forTwitter in the future.
Get Earthquake Warning Tweets Many lives were saved during Japan’s devastating earthquake andtsunami in March of this year by the country’s earthquake warningsystem, which sent messages to mobile phones in time for people toprepare for the temblor.
Though the United States doesn’t have thatkind of system in place yet, you can mimic the functionality of theJapanese emergency notification system with Earthquake Bots, a seriesof Twitter feeds that automatically tweet earthquakes in areas such asSan Francisco and Los Angeles.
Tweet For the Home Team
If you’re a sports fan, you’ll recognize the practical utility of RUWT. RUWT,which playfully stands for Are You Watching This, is a service designedto let you know about sports events you don’t want to miss. When apitcher has a potential no-hitter going, or your favorite footballteam’s game just went into overtime, RUWT sends you a tweet to makesure that you catch the crucial action while it’s still happening.
Tweet Your To-Do List
Fans of to-do list service Rememberthe Milk know that one of the best things about it is howeasily it allows you to add and check off items from almost any device,thanks to its myriad mobile apps and great mobile website. It’s so easyto use, in fact, that you can add items via Twitter. Just tie yourTwitter and Remember the Milk accounts together by using thistutorial; then start tweeting that you’ll need to pick upsome more ice cream, the moment you think of it.
Track a Package on Twitter
Let’s say that you’ve just ordered a new outfit or a great new novelonline, and you don’t want to miss your package when it arrives. You’llprobably want to bookmark Trackthisto ensure that you’ll know the second your package arrives. TheTrackthis service will send you a notification via Twitter every timeyour package gets scanned in at any location. All you have to do isprovide your tracking information and Twitter name, and Trackthis willautomatically keep you informed as your package is shipped off, arrivesin your town, and goes out for delivery.
Make Your Own Twitter Bot
If you’re not satisfied by what any of these bots can do, try Twitter 411, aservice that lets you create your own custom Twitter bot. The Twitter411 site contains a directory of public apps that users have alreadycreated to handle tasks ranging from checking out the day’s weather inLondon, to getting a quick map to a friend’s house, to doing some quickcalculations via Twitter. Since all of these apps are available forpublic use, you can even use a little ingenuity to tie them together todo almost anything through Twitter.