Yesterday was one heck of a day for we, the unholy legion of Apple fanbois. New iPod Shuffle (only $50!), iPod Touch (near-feature-parity with the iPhone 4), iPod Nano (touch screen, 1.5inch squared form-factor, added to Christmas list), AppleTV (umm… it’s small), iOS 4.2 preview for iPad (at least we finally got to see it!), a shiny new iTunes with music/social integration, and the notable exclusion of my favorite, but now generally unloved, iPod Classic.
With all of that, what do I really want to talk about? Twitter!!! New hardware is fun, but new software is where it’s at, and the Twitter app, updated yesterday to include native support for the iPad, is a real doozie.
I’ve been playing around with the app for a while now and I developed some strong opinions pretty quickly. I’ll share them here, just so you know what you’re getting into before taking the $0.00 plunge of downloading.
It’s free. That’s a big bonus for we poor folk. It’s also called “Twitter”, which is nice for when my brain craps out and forgets what the icon looks like (happens more than you would think). The UI is pretty excellent; it’s simple in most views, and doesn’t stray far from the Twitter for iPhone UI or the corresponding Mac app (still called Tweetie, wonder when they will get around to updating that). There are loads of cool gesture controls, such as reverse-pinch to bring up an overview of a particular user’s account, and a single-finger reverse pinch to get a list of replies with another user in the order they were tweeted.
Any tweet you tap slides in from the right side of your screen, which is a fairly novel presentation that I really enjoyed. If the tweet contains a link, Twitter will automatically start opening it in the in-app browser, which thankfully does not go to full-screen by default (but it is an option). If there was a hashtag, but no link, Twitter will open up a search for that hashtag below the tweet, and if there was no link or hashtag, Twitter will automatically load the overview of that user’s profile. I love that there is never any wasted space, and once you’re done reading a particular tweet, you can just slide it back off the screen and continue reading your timeline.
Also, there’s great integration with Textexpander, which takes user-defined snippets of text and expands them, saving tons of writing time, as well as the thankful inclusion of Instapaper, a service I am in love with and wrote about here.
My experience wasn’t all roses and rainbows and unicorns, though. My first qualm was with the “compose new tweet” screen; while it was nice that it simply “pops” up, it made the screen seem a tad too busy for my tastes, and there was no way to add mentions or DM from within the compose window itself.
My second, and much bigger problem, is when trying to do the reverse-pinch to view a user’s profile. If I didn’t reverse pinch both fingers aggresively, it often treated one finger as not moving and opened up a personal reply timeline with that user instead. If I pinched in too horizontal a way, it treated it as a swipe; not what I wanted either! When I finally got the motion right, I found it impossible to pinch to hide away the profile window. I had to tap outside of the box, which wasn’t what I wanted to do intuitively. I’ll get used to it, but I don’t want to.
Last but not least – the window that comes up when you actually view a tweet. The only thing I didn’t like here was a biggie, and I can’t believe this is actually there; there are two of those little “arrow in a box” buttons; one on the top-right, beside the retweet button, and one in the bottom-right, beside the full-screen button. Why, oh why? What an infuriating UI choice. I get that one is for dealing with the actual link (open in Safari, send to Instapaper, etc), and the other is for dealing with the tweet itself (translate, mail), but, no, not acceptable.
From where I’m sitting…
After all that, what decision did I come to? Twitter claimed the last spot on my dock. I’m a shill for company-backed apps, I guess. But you should try it too; it’s free (iTunes link), and might well give your current client a run for its money.
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Posted under: Reviews