App Walkthrough: Tweetie 2.0 Twitter Client for iPhone
Tweetie 2.0 [$2.99 - iTunes link] is the second generation release of one of the iPhone's most popular Twitter clients. According to developer Atebits, it's also a ground-up re-write -- it even has a snazzy new gray, single, cut-out bubble icon to prove it -- the only thing 2.0 having in common with 1.0 being the name. I'd argue that point -- they're also both darn good Twitter clients, and they both share a price of $2.99.
That's right. Since Apple doesn't (yet?) provide a mechanism for upgrades (which to many developers means incentive and to many users means discount), and since in-app purchase can only add content, not replace an entire app, Atebits is packaging Tweetie 2.0 as a whole new app. And they're charging the same price. In other words, whether you bought the first Tweetie or not, you'll have to buy Tweetie 2.0.
Is it worth it? Let's take a look...
There's pervasive landscape mode, so rotate between portrait and landscape as the mood strikes you. Once you've decided on your orientation of choice, you need to add an account, and Tweetie 2.0 supports multiple accounts, of course. There's also a cog icon for Advanced options, where you can enter an API Root and Search API for Twitter proxy servers (if Twitter.com is not directly available to you).
Not something many users will likely have the need for, but great, specialized option.
From the Accounts screen, you can select which account you want to access (if you have multi accounts set up), with Edit, Add, Settings, and Refresh buttons in the corners.
Settings lets you toggle Display Name between username and full name, Date Format between Relative and Absolute, and Font Size from anything between 13pt and 20pt.
Yes, Tweetie 2.0 has done the un-Apple and placed settings in the app, and not in Apple's Settings app. We'll leave the in-vs-out, settings-vs-preferences debate out of this walkthrough, just know where to go if you need to make changes.
You can choose your preferred Image Service from yFrog, TwitPic, TweetPhoto, Mobypicture, Twitgoo, Posterous, or img.ly, or set a custom option (by setting the image service API endpoint). Video Service options (for iPhone 3GS users) include yFrog and TwitVid. URL Shortening options include j.mp (bit.ly), TinyURL, is.gd, i.pr, u.nu, or Linkyy, or again, a Custom option. Read Later offers Instapaper or Read it later support.
Advanced Setting offer a host of additional configurations. Quote Syntax can be set to "..." -@user or "..." (via @user). Auto Rotate (the ability to rotate between portrait or landscape modes discussed above) options include Always, Compose Screen Only, or Never (would that Apple offered this system-wide on the iPhone!).
Enable TextExpander can be toggled between on and off, as can sound effects.
User Services can likewise be toggle for Tweet Blocker, Follow Cost, Favstar.fm, Favrd, and Tweeteorites.
API Keys are available for jmp login and key, and for Tagal.us.
There's also an Install Safari Bookmarklet, which creates a browser link that you can use to send URLs from the Mobile Safari browser to Tweetie 2.0. (A webpage with full, step by step instructions show you how to set it up). It's not as necessary post cut-and-paste in iPhone 3.x, but it's handy.
All in all, an amazing array of choices and enough configurability to make a settings junkie very, very happy.
Once you've chosen your account, Tweetie 2.0 takes you to your timeline, presented as a fairly standard list view of the tweets of all the people you follow. It's also the first tab along the bottom of the app, represented by a word bubble which gets brighter, and gets a little triangular pointer on top, when active. Also, if you have any unread tweets, a small glowing dot will appear beneath the icon, much like how the Dock in Mac OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard denote active apps. These indicators are consistent for @Mentions and Direct Messages as well.
Just like Apple's Spotlight enabled apps, you can scroll up to reveal a search box. In timeline view, typing in the search box filters the contents of the tweets (i.e. typing in iPhone results in only tweets containing the word "iPhone" to show up).
Instead of a Tweetie 1.x-style refresh button at the top of the list view, Tweetie 2.0 uses something more fun, if less iPhone-like. Pull down even further, past the Spotlight box, and you get a downward arrow that tells you to keep pulling if you want to refresh. Keep pulling and then, spring-like, the arrow flips up and the text changes, instructing you to release to refresh. Boom. New tweets.
Like Tweetie 1.x, swipe a tweet and you slide it away to get quick access to several options: deal with links in tweets (which gives you additional options like Open, Mail Link, Repost Link, and Read Later), go to user's profile, star tweet, and perform an action (like Retweet, Quote Tweet, Post Link to Tweet, Mail Tweet, and Translate).
Tapping on a tweet takes you to a view of only that tweet which includes information like full name and username, which client was used to post the tweet, and surfaced buttons offering the same options as the swipe detailed above. There are also up and down triangle arrows, like you get in Mail, so you can go to the next or previous tweet, saving you having to hit the Timeline (back) button, and essentially letting you browse in single tweet mode if you like.
Tapping on the avatar/name bar brings you to the user's profile which adds in the Twitter user number (order in which you joined Twitter -- i.e. @biz and @ev are early joiners and so have low numbers, most of the rest of us are not and so have high numbers).
On the right there's a button to add the user to your iPhone contacts, (with the URL of their Twitter page, and their Bio as a note) or share that info like you would any iPhone contact.
The Profile page also shows the user's Twitter bio, their location, and web site URL. Tapping on Location will open an embedded Google Map. Tapping on web will, of course, open an embedded browser and pull up the web site.
(And yes, I even like the pinstripes. They work. Apple uses them, and as such they do their job without drawing attention to themselves -- which is a big part of their job. So I'm in the pro-pinstripe camp. There, I said it).
The next section shows the number of people the user is following, the number of followers the user has, the number of tweets the user's posted, and the number of tweets the user has favorite'd. Tapping on any of those counters will bring up lists of the respective users or posts.
There's a big Follow/Unfollow button for convenience (and you can choose to follow/unfollow from multiple accounts if you have them set up), and a services button which lets you access Tweet Blocker, Follow Cost, and Favstar.fm.
A More button lets you set Block Option and Notification Options (via Twitter's built in SMS support -- no support (yet?) for Apple's Push Notification).
At the end, text informs you as to the user's Twitter join date.
Along the bottom are icons for Profile (the page described immediately above), Timeline (a list view of that user's tweets), @Mentions (a list view of that user's mentions), and Favorites (a list view of that users Favorite'd tweets). Very convenient.
Mentions functions similarly to the Timeline view, though of course is restricted to the tweets that contain your @username. Like with Tweetie 1.x, you can tap on @usernames to go to that user, on URL's to open the URL, etc.
One element that's been improved is reply chains. Now, when you tap on a reply, there's an "in reply to" button beneath the tweet and tapping on that brings up a list view of all the linear tweets in that conversation. It's not a very Apple-like button, mind you, and I raise that only because Tweetie has always been the most Apple-like of the Twitter clients for me, but it's useful and it's conceivable even Apple hasn't figured out every usage case yet.
Direct Messages also share much of the functionality of the Timeline view, though the "pull and release to refresh" doesn't seem to be included here (and I'm not quite sure how to refresh that right now?).
Direct Messages are those tweets sent privately so only you and the sender can see them, and unlike the simple list view used for @mention reply-chains, these get the more chat-like bubble treatment. It's an interesting visual differentiator, and the bubbles themselves make Apple's look a little Aqua-dated.
There's a nice, Email-style Compose button at the top right that's consistent across all the major tabs -- big points for that. Tap it and you get a writing pad view similar to Tweetie 1, but with a widget-ized character counter. The counter not only tells you how much more you can type before hitting the 140 character limit, but if you tap on it, it unveils a host of additional options: Camera, Photo Library, Geotag, Username, Hashtags, Shrink URLs.
Camera lets you take photos (or video on the iPhone 3GS) to add to your tweet, and Photo Library lets you choose from images already on your iPhone. Geotag adds your GPS location. Username and Hashtags bring up a search box that lets you quickly find other users or trends to add to your tweet. For example, if you reply to @friend1, and want to add @friend2 and @friend3, or #topic4, just search, tap, and it's inserted at the cursor point. Shrink URLs will use your shortener of choice to compact a link and save you precious characters.
Other Twitter clients have had some of these functions already, but it's great to see them implemented with Tweetie's characteristic clean, simple interface.
Also, if you decide to Close a tweet without posting, Tweetie will now offer to let you save it to Tweetie's new drafts manager, save it to the excellent Birdhouse app for further crafting, or to simply abandon it via Don't Save.
Search gives you the option to Search for content or username, and yes, you can save searches. Awesome.
You can also search Nearby (location based), which again includes embedded Google Maps with pins for nearby Twitter users. Tapping a pin brings up the user's name, and tapping on that takes you to their profile page.
Also included on this screen is a handy list of currently trending topics on Twitter (no four letter words this time, luckily!)
More gives you access to your own Profile -- and yes, you can now edit it right in Tweetie 2.0!
You can also get a list of your Favorite'd tweets, Go to User if you know a specific Twitter ID and you want to jump directly to that profile, and access the Drafts manager (which has a handy "send all" option).
Persistence and Offline Sync
If you're using Tweetie 2.0 and you exit the app, it saves the exact state of the interface and the next time you launch Tweetie 2.0, it brings you back exactly to that state. So, if you were browsing your @mentions, you come back to those exact @mentions. Composing a tweet, you come back to that composition, already in progress.
It's hard to express just how awesome this feature is, and other apps should adopt it immediately if not sooner. Yes, sure, it's still not multi-tasking, but it makes the lack of multi-tasking far less annoying.
Equally awesome is that, if you're offline for any reason (no WiFi or 3G/data available), Tweetie 2.0 will still let you go about performing actions, and will then send them to Twitter when you resume your online connection. Sublime.
Yeah, no Push Notification. Atebits is currently happy with Twitter's built in SMS feature, so it's not on the current agenda. If you want Push Notifications, you'll need a middleapp like Boxcar, or you'll need to look elsewhere.
Also, while I personally never use them, there's aren't any themes yet for those who like to switch up their experience. No dark theme. No blubbly theme. No themes.
No group hacks either, though hopefully when Twitter rolls out Lists, Tweetie will add support in a future update.
Lastly, still no unread counts (like Mail's little red dot that tells you how many new messages you have.
All the above, and we've only just scratched the surface of Tweetie 2.0. It's an amazing upgrade, easily worth $2.99 for Tweetie 1.x users, if not more for new users. Either way, if you liked Tweetie 1.x, you'll fine a whole lot more love for its bigger, better brother.
Bottom line -- Tweetie 2.0 brings so much to the table, so simply and elegantly, and with such discoverability that it earns not only a high place among the iPhone's crowd of Twitter clients, but among its apps in general.
As always, if you give Tweetie 2.0 a try, let us know what you think, and if you find any features we missed, let us know in the comments!
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