The battle to be the top player in the Twitter client battle on the iPhone is pretty intense, so developers vying for the number one spot have their work cut out for them. With the release of Tweetie 2, atebits shows it has what it takes to be a contender.
Tweetie 2 is an iPhone and iPod touch-native application for using the popular Twitter social networking service. Like other Twitter client apps, it lets users view posts (or tweets), create their own tweets, reply to other Twitter user comments, and send and receive private messages. The trick is to find ways to present those features in a compelling and easy to use fashion, and Tweetie 2 does just that.
The interface is clean and easy to use, the controls are understandable even though they typically don't include words, and there are plenty of time saving tricks tucked away, too.
Tweetie's timeline (left) and mentions (right) views.
Flicking down while at the top of your timeline loads new tweets, marking one of the most brilliant interface features in the app. Odds are Apple's own software engineers are wishing they thought of the feature, and it's something I find myself trying in Mail when I want to check for new messages. Of course, the gesture doesn't work in Mail, but every time I try it drives home how useful the feature is.
Tweetie 2 supports multiple Twitter accounts, and if you start writing a tweet in the wrong account, you can switch by tapping the account name in the post entry view. The post entry view also includes a counter to show how many characters you have left (tweets can be no more than 140 characters long), and tapping the counter reveals additional features such as a user name lookup, a hashtag lookup, and access to your iPhone's camera and photo library.
The app can link to the contacts on your iPhone or iPod touch as well. This is a handy feature if you want to create new Address Book entries from your friends on Twitter, but I couldn't find any other uses for the feature since I couldn't dial contacts from within the Tweetie.
Tweetie packs lots of info in its account view.
The Twitter user info view shows whether or not they follow you and if you follow them, the ability to view their location in Google Maps, how many tweets they have posted, the ability to tag them as a spammer, and more.
Tweetie includes support for several Twitter image services such as yFrog, TwitPic, Mobypicture and Posterous. You can also set up custom image services if you know the service's API endpoint. If you have no idea what that means, just stick with the popular Twitter image services and know that Tweetie can support more if you ever need it to.
When tweets show up with images, you'll see a photo badge along with the post. You have to tap the post to switch to single post view before you can tap the photo link, but single post view includes an image preview so it's easier to decide if the pic is worth checking out.
Tweets with photos show a badge (left) and in-line previews (right), too.
Tweetie 2 includes built-in support for TextExpander touch ($2.99), which is sure to make TextExpander users happy. The feature lets users that have installed TextExpander touch type shortcut abbreviations that auto-expand into full words or sentences, saving tons of typing time.
It also supports the Instapaper service, sending draft tweets to Birdhouse ($1.99), Twitter's soon-to-be-implemented geotagging feature, video recording, tweet caching, offline viewing, landscape orientation and the app restores what you were doing if you jump to another application or are interrupted by a phone call.
For all of Tweetie 2's great features, however, there are still a few annoyances tucked away. For example, if you already use the original Tweetie and install the new version, none of your accounts or saved searches carry over. You have to reenter your account info in the new app, which is more of an annoyance, but it still stings if you manage several Twitter accounts. Losing saved searches hurt some, too, since I use several on a regular basis.
Tweetie's basic settings (left) and advanced settings (right).
Some of Tweetie's shortcut gestures, like swiping from left to right on the navigate back button to return to the timeline view, are great, but they are clearly right handed. Including a option to switch the interface for left handed use would be a nice addition not only for gestures, but for button and control placement, too.
One point of contention I've heard come up several times is the application's price. It's priced at US$2.99 for first time buyers and Tweetie 1 users alike. There isn't an upgrade price option.
Apple didn't include a system to offer upgrade pricing in the App Store, so there's no way for developers to set a sliding price scale. Instead of complaining to developers about that, let Apple know if you are upset -- and keep in mind that Tweetie 2 costs only $2.99, which is less than most people spend on coffee every day.
The Bottom Line
Tweetie 2 is a full-on powerhouse Twitter client with a great feature mix for new users and hard core Twitter junkies alike. The intuitive and natural feel of the interface put a smile on my face, and helped the sting of having to reenter my account and saved searches fade a little faster. I'm picky about what ends up on my iPhone's Home screen, and there's a spot for Tweetie 2 right along with my other must-have apps.