Version Reviewed: 2.0 (iPhone OS 3.0 Tested)
Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
iPhone Integration [rating:5/5]
User Interface [rating:5/5]
It's the one we've all been waiting for. Highly anticipated and loved by many, Loren Brichter's Tweetie now has that of a cult following. Following the huge success of the original Tweetie, Tweetie 2 promised a faster and more efficient overall 'core', lots of new functionality all the while retaining that simple, elegant style we've all come accustomed to.
At his iPhone development talk at Standford University in May - which by the way is well worth the watch - when asked why he thought Tweetie was so popular, Loren explained that he believed a huge part of Tweetie's success to date came down to that of pure luck. I disagree. Yes, Tweetie found a gap in the market when it did, but in my opinion its sheer simplicity of use, and full feature set, for me, was its 'unique' selling point. Tweetie 2 carries this way of thinking forwards, bringing with it a huge feature-set and really, for me, taking Tweetie 1 to the next level.
Opening the app you'll be asked the login with your Twitter credentials, and once in you'll be throw to the mutli-account manager screen. Just like Tweetie 1, Tweetie 2 supports multiple accounts, with options to add, delete and set settings for each. Opening your timeline you'll begin to realise this is where Tweetie 2 really comes into its own. The first thing you might notice is the plain 'White' shaded theme. Simple and easy to read, each tweet is separated into its own box. The overall layout of how your tweets hasn't changed at all, with your twitter avatar remaining on the left and yours and everyone elses twitter handle displayed above each tweet. What you probably will notice is the position of the 'time' a tweet was tweeted as changed. Instead of being above each tweet as in Tweetie 1 (which I have to say, now looking at Tweetie 2 looks cluttered and a bad design choice), the time is now displayed within each tweet area, in the top right. Allowing you to see at a glance when a certain tweet hit your timeline.
Also new is the bottom tab bar. Instead of following the usual rigid and uniform 'design' rules, Loren has added a tab bar design that you're unlikely to find anywhere else on the App Store. Slightly thinner than the usual, and similar in design to that of Leopard's dock, Tweetie 2 sees the same amount of tabs added, but this time they're slightly different. Running from the left to right you have; Timeline, Mentions, Direct Messages, Search and More. When something new appears in your timeline, or you get a new mention or DM, Tweetie 2 will now alert you by the way of a electric blue 'dock-like' indicator. The new tab bar also introduces a new feature for reading DMs, too. If you want to mark all your DMs as 'read', all you have to do is double tapp the DM icon (the envelope with the downward arrow), and all DMs will be marked read.
But the additions don't stop there, far from it. Need to find a specific tweet you remember seeing, but didn't have time to fully read it at the time, and don't fancy scrolling to find it again? Tweetie 2 now includes a 'search' field for searching your entire timeline. But, it's what's above this search field which is the real star-feature of this app. In Tweetie 1, refreshing your timeline was less than exciting. All you did was simply tap a slightly beveled button, with a refresh arrow and BOOM, your timeline refreshed.
This is gone, and it's been replaced with - in my opinion - the best implementation of timeline refreshing an App Store Twitter client has (and probably will) ever see. To refresh your timeline in Tweetie 2, all it takes is a flick of your finger. At the top of your timeline there is an expandable 'section'. If you tap, drag and pull your timeline down, you'll see it, and it says 'Pull Down to Refresh ...' along with the date of when you last refreshed. All you do is drag this down, until it switches to 'Release to refresh' .. release, and your timeline refreshes now accompanied by this cool "pop" sound.
This feature really needs to be played with to understand how ... well how revolutionary it is, if that's the word.
You'll also be glad to hear this new refresh mechanism is present in Tweetie 2's replies tab, too. Surprisingly though, you won't find it in your DMs tab. Something which took me a while to get accustomed to, due to the current amount of daily DMs I receive, and me being on Twitter for most of the week. But, the more I think about it, for the general user the need to refresh your DMs every second of the day isn't needed, and you'll be glad it know you'll only have to wait seconds for the DM to refresh with your latest DMs.
On the new tab, search, you have the options to search Twitter via keywords, and view the current top 10 Twitter trending topics. Tapping an individual trending topic will return a timeline of activity for that topic. Okay, Miley Cyrus is trending, but maybe you'd like to see exactly why Miley Cyrus is trending? (okay, maybe not). Well in Tweetie 2, you can do that too. Tapping the 'Tag' -like icon bottom left will show the description of a current trending topic, in a nice iPhone OS-esque notification bubble. Moving away from trending topics though, and going back to the search tab, you'll also find another feature which has made the jump from Tweetie 1. Nearby.
Introduced in Tweetie 1, nearby was a feature designed to show you who was tweeting around you, in relation to your location. The feature would make a timeline of all those tweets around you, and display them just like your ordinary timeline - and, although nice, many people (including myself) thought the feature could have been enhanced. In Tweetie 2, it is. In fact, the feature has been completely rewritten. In the new version, you're actually shown a live Google map of surrounding tweeters. Need to switch to the 'old' way of thinking, and the timeline view? Don't worry, you'll find a tab for that, too - the only different being in nearby list view you can now click on any tweet, and see the exact location that tweet was tweeted from. It's worth a note that your location is only available to Tweetie to do this, if you wish it to. You can easily turn the setting off in iPhone Settings, General, Location Services.
Moving to the 'More' tab, you'll see a few welcome additions, the two most notable being the ability to save tweets 'as drafts' which we'll get into a bit later, and the ability to edit your Twitter.com profile, right from within the app. Now this isn't something I ever thought I'd need or use, but surprisingly it's really nice and like most of the additions in Tweetie 2, now feels like it should be there. Editing your profile is as simple as hitting 'Edit' from the 'My Profile' screen. Once you do, you'll see you can fully edit, your profile, account name(s), URL, location and your bio. I have to say it's very convenient to be able to do this straight from within Tweetie instead of having to go to Twitter.com.
Stepping away from Tweetie 2's tab bars now, I want to shift focus onto the re-vamped compose screen. If you still happen to be using Tweetie 1, you'll likely notice the compose screen feels a little 'static'. You have a compose box, a character count and a send button. Simple? Yes, Does the job? Definitely, but in Tweetie 2, your compose experience is about to be seriously enhanced. On first look you might think what is he talking about, Tweetie 2's compose screen is the same. You'd be right, but tapping the 'character count' will have you thinking different. This slides down the keyboard to reveal 6 new posting options, including; Photo from Camera, Photo from Photo Library, Geotag, @Usernames, Hashtags and Shrink URLs. Some of which are pretty self-explanatory.
Say you're looking to reply to someone, but can't be bothered searching your timeline to find a tweet, just so you can send a public reply. The new @username option allows you to search the Twitter directory of usernames, to find the person you're looking for - all the while, live searching. The new hashtags option is pretty much the same. You don't want to be left searching your timeline to copy and paste (as much as it is now convenient with iPhone OS 3.0) a hashtag, you just want to be able to create one. Simply input the hastag you want to create, and Tweetie 2 adds the hash symbol, automagically.
Need to save a tweet as a draft, to edit later? Maybe it doesn't have that 'awesomeness' yet, and you've developed tweeters block? Don't fret. Tapping cancel will give you a 'Save as Draft' option. Remember that 'More' tab? Just hit 'Drafts' and you can continue editing your tweet right where you left off! Alternatively, if you have Birdhouse installed you can send your tweet there, too.
The option I really want to talk to you about though is 'Shrink URLs.' It's just as it sounds - but this time, with a difference. Amongst the many new features within Tweetie 2, the one which really caught mine and James' (a friend) eye, co-owning the rapidly growing URL service rfly.me, was custom URL shortening API endpoints.
In Tweetie 2, anyone with a custom URL shortener and an API, can use their service. Providing the API URL is setup to conform with this developer article found on atebits.com.
As well as the trippy new 'Custom' URL shortening option, Tweetie 2 still supports the usual's including; j.mp (bit.ly), TinyURL, is.gd and Linkyy (among others). Along with those options, the app also retains options for video shortening, image shortening and 'Read it Later' services. To be honest, 'Read Later' is a feature I don't particular have a use for, but it's pretty straight forward. It allows you to save tweets for later, for offline reading, with Tweetie 2 introducing a further online service into this section, 'Read it Later'.
Tapping 'Advanced' in Tweetie's now built-in settings panel also reveals even more functionality. The most notable by far being the five popular Twitter-related social networks which are now interfacing with Tweetie 2. These include Tweet Blocker, Follow Cost, Tim Haines' FavStar.FM, Favrd and Tweetoerites.
There is one issue with the software however, which was only pointed out to me today, and that is timeline caching. Basically this means your timeline is saved and restored between uses. Although great, there's a big issue Loren and some other users using the app may have missed. But what could I be talking about?
In Jeff's words:
"Example - you load your timeline and close the app for 10 hours. When you relaunch, you will see 10 hour old tweets and the latest 100 load above those. The issue is that if your timeline has had over 100 new tweets you can't get to them - there's a gap after the initial 100."
A showstopper? Possibly. Maybe you didn't even notice it at first? I know I didn't. As Jeff explains, it may not be an issue to most. Loren is aware of the issue, and current status on the matter is that he will try to fix this 'bug' in version 2.1.
The last thing I wanted to talk about is the fact that this wasn't the usual 'update' to an existing application, but an entirely separate app. With an entirely new $2.99 price tag for existing users to swallow. Something which I imagine Loren got quite a lot of stick over. Personally, I think Loren did have just reason to submit Tweetie 2 as a completely separate app. Not only because it was in fact a complete rewrite of Tweetie 1, but the functionality, innovation and polish added in this release, it deserves the spotlight.
In Loren's words:
"Making a “2.0” could have been easy. I could have changed the version number, added video tweeting and called it a day. Other apps call that “2.0” - I think it’s lame."
Wrapping up here, Loren has proven that once again Tweetie is a superior Twitter client. Although this release did see some decisions which won't be looked upon lightly by everyone, for example, the fact that Tweetie 2 now only has one theme option, this release definitely sees Tweetie as a client, for me, take a step up from the original Tweetie 1.
Yes it currently does have it's flaws (as seen above), and yes, some decisions made within this version of the app may put you off entirely. The way I see it? At this stage, the positives outweigh the negatives, bringing once again the charm and style of Tweetie 1 in a overall very powerful and feature-full package.
With improved composition options, the ability to save tweets as drafts, new timeline and refresh mechanisms, offline reading, enhanced nearby functionality, custom URL options - and who can forget those accompanying refresh sounds? It's hard to deny that Tweetie 2 has, in my opinion, once again secured itself as one of the best Twitter client choices for both iPhone (and iPod touch) - and once it resolves its issues, dare I say it; Apple Design Award 2010, anyone?