Twitter has finally -- finally! -- updated the iPad interface to the new look and feel both Twitter.com and the iPhone interface have had for a while now. While it's good to see Twitter hasn't abandoned the iPad the way they seemingly have the Mac app, the update is also more of a mixed bag of hurt.
For mainstream users, the ones we've discussed many times before, who have very few followers, follow hundreds of celebrities, don't direct message, but use tons of TV #hashtags, it's likely an good, more consistent and accessible interface. But it's not a great one. To use Apple's term, this is the smartphone app stretched out to tablet size. It doesn't make use of the additional size of the iPad's screen. It just stretches and spaces to fill it. The information density compared to the previous version is way down, and even if arguably that was too much for regular users, this is too little.
For those of us geeks who grew up with Twitter, and with Tweetie before Twitter bought it, and with the bold, innovative interface Loren Brichter created for the iPad app... it frankly sucks. While not everyone liked the sliding panels of Brichter's iPad interface, the skill it took to design, implement, animate, and get the look and feel to that level was inarguably impressive. It was one of the first apps to truly think differently about interactions on the bigger iPad screen. And now it's gone.
Give it a year and few will remember the old Twitter iPad interface. Millions more will have bought iPads, big and maybe small, and started using the new, awkwardly designed, if more consistent new iPad app.
Twitter deserves credit for recognizing their changing user base and transforming with it. The good of the many outweighs the good of the geeks, including this one.
Hopefully it's just a beginning and Twitter will spend some time iterating on this and update again with something that better matches the potential of the iPad with the realities of their new user space. I won't count on it, but I won't count them out. The decisions being made at the top might be vexing for what amounts to legacy Twitter users and developers, but they've got some amazingly talented people there working on this stuff.
The new Twitter for iPad is live now in the App Store.
Free - Download now
And if you try it and it doesn't suit your fancy, may I suggest:
$2.99 - Tweetbot - Download now
Free - Twitterrific - Download now
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