Tweetie 2

If you don’t already know, Tweetie is one of the most popular iPhone Twitter clients out there today. It combines tons of powerful features with a killer user interface that you’d swear came from Apple. So when Loren Brichter, Tweetie’s creator, started work on the next version, he was competing with his original app. To do this, Brichter totally rewrote the app from scratch, leaving behind every bit of code from version one. Then he applied all of the experience he gained from the original and created an even more powerful, feature-packed version with the same level of simplicity that made Tweetie a success. The result is Tweetie 2.

Editor’s note: This is a full review of Tweetie 2. Owners of the original Tweetie will note that many of the features discussed here exist in the previous version. A run-down of new features are listed at the bottom of the review.

The first thing you’ll notice about Tweetie is its clean, easy to understand user interface. Navigating through Tweetie works just like the Mail or iPod app; it’s all hierarchical, gradually taking you from general to specific. Buttons and interface elements look great, lists scroll with no delay, and the entire layout makes perfect sense. No feature is left out, yet not one bit is cluttered. It’s near perfect.

At the bottom of nearly every screen is the familiar iPhone tab bar which contains tabs for viewing the timeline, mentions and direct messages. Whenever new information comes in, a blue light appears below the corresponding tab.

On the UI front, there were only a couple items I would have changed. Mainly the section which shows a user’s profile image in the “single tweet” view isn’t great. I also feel like the user info view could use some slight refining. Users of the original Tweetie may be disappointed to find that there is no theme support, at least not yet. Otherwise, I love every inch of Tweetie 2′s UI.

  

Tweetie 2′s timeline and single-tweet views.

When you open Tweetie for the first time, you’ll be prompted to enter your Twitter login info. The app optionally supports multiple accounts which can be added by tapping the plus button in the accounts view.

Tweetie’s timeline view is one of the best out there. Scrolling is quick and mentions are colored light blue so they can be easily seen, although I think the color is still a bit too light. At the top is a search field which lets you live search through tweets in the timeline. Pulling on the list from the top of the timeline refreshes and scrolling to the bottom will load older tweets.

By popular demand, full persistence has been added which means that individual tweets and your position in the timeline are saved. The app also also remembers exactly where you are across launches, even if you’re several levels deep.

One of the most useful new features is a gesture that lets you jump back to the main view from wherever you are. Users of the original Tweetie know how easy it is to get lost down a rabbit hole of information. So now, simply swiping the “back” button from left to right brings you to the main level, saving lots of extra taps.

Selecting a tweet shows it in the single view mode. You can scroll through individual tweets in the timeline by tapping the up/down arrows in this view or by pulling up or down. You can also reply, quote, retweet, or favorite in the single view. Links can be mailed, reposted, sent to Instapaper, or viewed in Tweetie’s built-in browser. Photos and videos can be directly viewed if posted from a supported site (such as TwitPic). Tapping someone’s user picture shows their profile. Copying text from a tweet also works as expected in Tweetie 2.

Using the swipe gesture on a tweet in the timeline reveals the same contextual menu items found in the single tweet view.

So what about posting to Twitter? Tweetie 2′s compose sheet is incredibly simple even though it’s loaded with power. As you type, the number of available characters are shown on a disclosure button. If you try to post a tweet longer than 140 characters, Tweetie will offer to post using Twitlonger. Tapping the disclosure button shows additional options for attaching multiple photos or videos, adding a link to your current location, or inserting hashtags and @usernames which can be selected from a list of ones you’ve recently used. URLs can also be automatically shortened using your preferred URL shortening service. If you want to post from an account other than the one that’s active, tap the “New Tweet” text at the top of the sheet to choose another.

  

Tweetie 2′s new compose sheet.

One really cool feature that Tweetie has is called “peek.” If you’re replying to a tweet, you can pull down on the compose window to reveal the original message in case you need to look back at the original.

Tweetie 2 also features a drafts manager for saving tweets that aren’t finished yet. To save a tweet to the drafts section, hit close on an unfinished tweet and choose save. You can access them under More>Drafts. Additionally, you can create new drafts right from the drafts manager. If you’d rather use Birdhouse [App Store, $1.99], Tweetie supports saving unfinished drafts there too.

The user info view has seen several significant changes in Tweetie 2. You can see whether someone follows you, how many people they follow, number of tweets, and number of favorites. There’s also a services menu which gives you access to stuff like Tweet Blocker and Favrd. You can even report a spammer right from Tweetie! Additionally you can change notification options and block options.

Contacts in your iPhone’s address book can be linked to Twitter users, which might be handy for some. The result is that you can see someone’s contact info from inside of Tweetie. However, the usefulness of this disappears as soon as you realize that you can’t actually call someone by tapping their number. It also lacks confirmation dialogues, so if you choose the wrong contact, you have some cleanup to do. You should also keep in mind that Tweetie overwrites the contact picture with their Twitter picture. Although I see the potential usefulness of a feature like this, not being able to make calls or pull up a map from Tweetie makes it more trouble than it’s worth, at least for now.

Direct messages in Tweetie are grouped by user, making them much easier to manage. Messages are also threaded, again for easier viewing. Double-tapping the DM tab marks all messages as read.

The Search tab of course lets you search Twitter as well as view and save frequently used searches. The “nearby” feature has been integrated into the search tab and displays nearby tweets with Google Maps. The top Twitter trends can also be viewed from the Search tab.

The More tab gives you access to your favorites and the drafts manager. Tapping “Go to user” will let you bring up any user by typing in their username or by selecting it from the list of recent users. I’m not sure how Tweetie decides which users to save for this list since it doesn’t necessarily pull from users you follow or from those who follow you.

Finally, all settings exist inside the app; not in the iPhone’s “Settings” app. You can choose whether to see Twitter names or real names in the timeline, relative or exact date and time, font size, and quote syntax. You can choose from several URL shortening services as well as which image and video services you’d like to have Tweetie upload to. Auto-rotate can be disabled or just enabled while composing. Sound effects within the app can also be disabled.

Overall, Tweetie is deceptively clean and simple for the amount of powerful features it has. Not once was I confused about how to use a particular feature or function. Beginners will love this app just a much as power user will. In my opinion, this app beats every other iPhone Twitter client out there. Tweetie 2 has the perfect balance of simplicity and power, making it our favorite Twitter client for the iPhone.

Owners of the original Tweetie, here is a list of significant changes in Tweetie 2:

  • Refined design
  • Live search in the timeline
  • Video recording
  • Tweets are now cached across launches
  • Your place in the app is maintained across launches
  • Actions such as fav, follow/unfollow, block, and instapaper can be performed while offline. Changes are sent once you’re back online.
  • New drafts manager 
  • Send to Birdhouse
  • Address book linking
  • Conversations are now threaded, not just linked
  • New notifications are indicated by a blue dot on the tab bar
  • “Nearby” now uses Google Maps and supports geotagging when Twitter rolls that out
  • Saved searches are synced with Twitter.com
  • Integration with third-party Twitter services; Favrd, Favstar, Tweet Blocker, and Follow cost
  • New compose sheet controls. People picker, recent hashtags, multiple attachments
  • “Peek” at original tweets while you’re typing your reply
  • Full landscape; configurable to only happen on the compose sheet or totally off.
  • Editing of your own profile
  • “Return to main” gesture
  • Read it Later integration
  • Refresh on “pull down” gesture
  • TextExpander support
  • Auto complete of recent searches and “Go to user”
  • Better avatar caching
  • Preview short URLs by tapping and holding
  • Multi-account block/follow
  • Copying text from tweets

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