December 14, 2008 at 9:02 AM by Dr. Drang
For a long time, I used Hahlo, a web app, as my Twitter client. despite its being limited to webish controls and layout, I liked its user interface and even created a site-specific browser in Fluid to run Hahlo on my Macs. But eventually I tired of Hahlo’s biggest drawback: when using Hahlo, you are relying on the speed and uptime not only of Twitter’s servers, but also of Hahlo’s. Too often, Hahlo’s servers (server?) were slow or down, and I’d have to move over to m.twitter.com.
Twitterrific, of course, is available on both the Mac and the iPhone and is the 800-lb gorilla of Twitter clients. I’ve used it on both platforms and just never really warmed to it. I suppose my indifference toward Twitterrific is due largely to my general dislike of white-on-black user interfaces, but I’m certain there’s more to it, even though I can’t put my finger on it.
Tweetie seemed right as soon as I started using it. First, it looked good. I know many people were put off by the iChat-like speech balloons it used to surround tweets, but I thought they made for a good visual break between tweets without taking up too much space. It was responsive—or as resposive as Twitter’s servers allow—because it talks to Twitter directly, rather than through another server. The user interface was well thought out: the features you use all the time (reading and writing) were up front; the features you use less often (looking at profiles, following a link) were available, but didn’t clutter the main page. It had, like NetNewsWire, a built-in browser for following links without leaving the application for Safari. There’s an option in the browser for opening a page in Safari if you want—because the Tweetie browser doesn’t allow landscape views, for some pages Safari is the better option.
The new version of Tweetie has all of these good points and has made some fixes and additions:
- The background color of a “normal” tweet used to be a bit too dark. Now it’s lighter, and the text is easier to read.
- The Post Link to this Page feature, which lets you create a tweet with a shortened link to the page you’re looking at in the built-in browser, now works. Apparently, this feature was broken in version 1.0 because the <bit.ly> URL shortening service changed its API.
- You can now change the look of Tweetie through the Settings app. There’s a choice of three font sizes (I chose Large, of course), two themes (people who hate the chat bubbles can now get a boring UI), and whether to identify tweets by the full names or screen names of the authors.
Here’s how the usually Tweetie view looks.
Normal tweets have a very light gray background, your own messages have a green background, and—if you use the Chat Bubbles theme—your avatar is on the right instead of the left. The little row of icons across the bottom bar seem pretty self-explanatory. @ Replies are colored blue
and Messages, i.e., Direct Messages, are colored pink.
I’m not thrilled with that pink, but I get direct messages via email, so I don’t have to look at it. If you use the Simple theme, the colored backgrounds are somewhat muted.
The More button takes you to this secondary screen
The options do what you probably expect; they’re similar to links on the main Twitter web interface.
- My Profile takes to to a screen where you can see (but not edit) your profile, stop following others, and look at your followers.
- Go To User lets you look up a user by screen name.
- Nearby uses the iPhone’s Location Services to see if other Twitterers are close. I have no idea what Tweetie considers “close;” when I tried this, it gave me tweets from all the western suburbs of Chicago—kind of a big area. Maybe it focuses more tightly in a big city.
- Trends gives a list of hot words or phrases on Twitter. Tapping a topic in the list takes you to recent tweets that include that those words.
- Search lets you search all tweets for a word or phrase.
Tweetie costs $2.99. Well worth it if you use Twitter a lot from your iPhone. Here’s a direct link to Tweetie at the App Store.