Over the past 4 years there had been many Twitter clients created for the iPhone, Blackberry, OS X and Windows platforms. With the arrival of the Apple iPad, a new class of Twitter clients arrived. Some recycled what they had done on the iPhone; like TweetDeck, some simply recompiled their iPhone app to run on the iPad. Then there are ones like Infoxenter, a Hong Kong developer, who decides to rethink the iPad platform and tries to utilize the full dimension of the iPad's 9.7" touch screen display. Infoxenter released Twitepad [iTunes App Store link] as its attempt to create a Twitter client for the iPad. Was it successful? I will try to explain below.

Before I get in to the review of the app I want to separate the different types of Twitter users into two distinct groups:

  • users with one Twitter account and;
  • users with multiple Twitter accounts

The current version (v1.31) of Twitepad is really not designed for the latter type users, I will focus this review on the former type users.

The app starts off with two main areas: a column on the left showing the Twitter stream and a wider column on the right which serves as a built-in browser. Unfortunately, this layout is the same for both landscape and portrait orientation of the iPad. As you can imagine when the iPad is in portrait orientation the Browser column is way too narrow.

I agree that having a built-in browser is convenient for viewing links from tweets, but having it stuck in a particular column that the app does not automatically reveal is clumbersome. I am not suggesting Twitepad's developer copy what other Twitter iPad clients (TweetDeck, Twitterific, Echofon, etc.) have done. Although, these other clients' implementations for viewing link's content within a tweet by displaying the web page in a new screen that automatically occupies the width of the iPad screen, along with options to view the said page in Safari on the iPad, share it, send it via email or save to Instapaper, is much more intuitive than Twitepad's approach.

Speaking of the browser column, there are icons in the browser's toolbar that are familiar to the users of mobile Safari. The Stop, Reload and "←" ("Back") behaviours are as expected, but the behaviours of the remaining buttons on the toolbar are not.

Strangely there is a "←" ("Back") button but there is no "→" ("Forward") button. In Safari the "+" button is use to save the current web page to the browser's bookmarks list, but in Twitepad clicking on the "+" button will set the current page as Home page.

On the browser toolbar there is a Tab/Browser icon, in Safari clicking on this button will bring the user to the list of opened tab/browser windows. But in Twitepad clicking on it reviews a thumbnail of a new browser window loaded with the current web page's content. To make this function even more confusing there is an arrow icon in the footer of the browser window. When this arrow icon is clicked, it toggles between "up arrow" and "down arrow". The former will reveals the list of thumbnails showing the opened browser windows, the latter will hide the list of thumbnails. Although, this sounds logical, in practice it results in an awkward UX.

In the browser toolbar next to the URL field is a blue Bookmark icon, clicking on this icon will review the browser Bookmarks, unfortunately this is separate from the iPad's Safari Bookmarks.

The remainder icons in the browser's Footer are the "Twitter" and "Instapaper" icons. The latter saves the current web page to your Instapaper account, but there are no progress indicator so if the network connection is slow or for whatever reason Instapaper did not immediately respond, the web page will be saved multiple times into the Instapaper account. The "Twitter" icon is for when the Browser column is scrolled all the way to the left of the screen as a result hiding all the Twitter Stream columns. Clicking on this icon will slide the Browser column to the right revealing the next left column of the Twitter stream.

There is a group of app settings in the iPad's Settings app, and another group of settings can be found in the Options pane, accessible from any Twitter Stream column title's right most icon.

The set of options available are a combination of settings for the app and the column. Hidden within one of the column setting, "Account", are the settings for the Bit.ly and Instapaper credentials associated with each Twitter account.

Aside from these unusual UI decisions, the features of the Twitter Stream column are as functional as the other mentioned iPad Twitter clients above. It has the ability to Retweet tweets (both new and classic methods), replies to the tweet originator or all mentioned, DM the originator of the tweet, marks a tweet as Favorite, translates the tweet to English, and email the tweet.

Clicking on the Avatar image, the name of the tweet originator or any twitter accounts mentioned in a tweet, will bring up an information pane displaying the vital information about the tweeple who originated the tweet. Information like the tweeple's Followers, Friends, Favorites and Tweets, his bio paragraph, whether the tweeple is following the user and if the user is following the tweeple.

In this information pane the user also have the ability to Follow, Unfollow or add the tweeple to a list. With the latter function it points out the app's lack of consideration for multiple Twitter accounts. The user is only able to add the tweeple to a list from the Twitter account that is currently following the tweeple.

For each tweet that has the colorful Conversation icon, the user can click on it to bring up a pane showing the full conversation relating to the tweet in question.

The other icon you may see within a tweet is the blue "globe" icon (a better icon would be the pin, flag or Google's geo location icon), this icon indicates the tweet is geo tagged. Clicking on this blue "globe" icon will bring up a Google Map showing the geo tagged information.

Clicking the New Tweet icon on the left hand side of the Twitter Stream column title will bring up a pane presenting the user with the options to create a new tweet or send a Direct Message. The only difference is that clicking on the Direct Message option the app will automatically places a "D " at the beginning of the New Tweet pane.

In this New Tweet pane, the options are: add a photo from the iPad's photo album, toggle the geo location for the tweet, add a "@" or "#" symbol to the tweet, delete the tweet, shorten the URL and change the sender of the tweet to a different Twitter account. The icons representing the latter two functions are a bit misleading, this is just one of the examples that this app still require polish and work. One very unintuitive button is the "Bird" icon which happens to be the "send" or "post" button for the New Tweet pane.

One of the app settings in the iPad's Settings app is to set either to use one or two fingers to scroll the columns. Yes, Twitepad has the ability to have multiple Twitter Stream columns, similar to TweetDeck. Unfortunately the navigation and manipulation of the columns are not as intuitive and smooth as those used in TweetDeck. The more columns active the less efficient the app will run. Having 4 Twitter Stream and Browser columns running I found the app tend to crash frequently. In conclusion, this is a good attempt to develop a Twitter client that is different from the others. Has it taken full advantage of the iPad screen real estate to present a great user experience, I cannot say it has. I hope the developer will now focus on deliver a great user experience for each Use Case rather than adding any more functionalities.

Lastly it has recently released a free version of the app called "Twitepad One" [iTunes App Store link] for users who only has one Twitter account. I hope that the developer will give more focus on multiple Twitter accounts after it has improve the UX for each of the existing Use Cases.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesiPad, review

A bit over a month ago Twitter (the site/service) purchased the popular iPhone app "Tweetie". During the announcement Twitter also announces that they will rename the app to "Twitter for iPhone" and reduce the price to free. The name is not that original but that was intentional, because Twitter wants people to find their client of the same name when they perform a search in the iTunes App Store. Since the acquisition the Twitter 3rd party client development community has been shaken up. The thinking from analysts is why would any user pays for a 3rd party client when there is a free official client from Twitter.

With the name change Twitter also changed the icon of the app. I think they have chosen a great icon, because it is the same as the default avatar icon in the Twitter service.

Even prior to the purchase Tweetie 2 users had already have a great deal of anticipation for the next update, Tweetie 3, so they are glad that the newly released app is basically Tweetie 3 with a name change. In this new version of Tweetie (aka "Twitter for iPhone") there are several speed improvements and bug fixes, the most noticeable are:

  • The ability to view tweet Trends without logging into the app. Perfect for the people who only consumes Twitter as a news feed.
  • Supports for corporate Twitter accounts that has their own server.
  • Supports for Bit.ly's new J.mp URL shortener.
  • Supports for customized URL shortener like ones at your own domain.
  • Supports 3rd party image and video hosting sites that are not in the default lists.

Access Twitter Without LoginCustom URL ShortenerCustom Image ShortenerPrivate Corporate Twitter Accounts Recommended ListsAfter logging in with your Twitter account for the first time. The application presents the recommended list of "featured" people to follow in various different categories.

Aside from these new additions, the basic UI of Tweetie had not change too much in this rebranded version of Tweetie.

Like the previous versions it supports multiple Twitter accounts, but it still does not offer the option to view these tweets from different accounts together in the same stream like CoTweet does. Accounts ScreenLoginRead Later OptionsSignup Screen

The previously available set of 3rd party sites and services for URL Shorteners, Image and Video hostings are still there. As mentioned there is now a change in the Bit.ly support to instead use the service's new URL shortener J.mp. Image Hosting ServicesVideo Hosting ServicesLogin Screen

There is a strange UI element in the Accounts Details screen, where an "Accounts & Settings" button is placed at the bottom of the screen after the Lists for the account. The reason this is strange is because users can go to the same part of the app simply by clicking on the Accounts button at the top of the screen.

Aside from this strange UI element allows the user access the account's Profiles, saved Favorites and Draft tweets.

The old favorites are still there including:

  • Swipe to the right on a tweet to quickly bring up the Reply, Retweet, Favorite, Profile, Act on a Link and Quote/Post/Mail/Translate a tweet.
  • Saved Searches

Saved SearchesSettingsSettings: Advanced

Strangely this newest Twitter client still does not have Push Notification like SimplyTweet has for several versions already.

Although at the price of FREE, Twitter has definitely set a high bar for all other 3rd party Twitter clients out there. I hope developers will not give up with Twitter's entry into the client market and continue to innovate.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesiphone, review

The very popular iPhone app, Tweetie by Atebits (the Loren Brichter's company) has been purchased by Twitter, the service it's a client for. Twitter decided to buy instead of recreate its own mobile client, so it settled on Tweetie. It rename the app to "Twitter for iPhone" and then make it free in the iTunes App Store.

Loren Brichter will join Twitter as a key member of their mobile team.

This has been confirmed by Evan William, one of the founder of Twitter, on their blog.

At the time of writing Tweetie is still available in the App Store for USD2.99. Given the above news I do not suggest anyone purchase it until Twitter takes over.

I wonder how will all the other Twitter clients: Seesmic, TweetDeck, SimplyTweet, Twitterrific, HootSuite and newcomers like Twitepad will react to this news.

I spoke with the developer of Twitepad, and he said:

Development of Twitepad will still continue. Have to see how tweetie for iPad will look when it's out. On the iPad there are many ways to build Twitter clients so there still might be a market for 3rd party clients.

I guess time will tell.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesiphone

Starting at 16:00 (GMT+0800, aka HK time) close to 200 cities around the world will began their local Twestival. This year the event is to raise money for Concern Worldwide in support of their efforts with educating children around the world.

If you cannot make it to the event in Hong Kong at 19:00 (GMT+0800) Staunton's Wine Bar & Cafe or at your local city, please make your donations via PayPal using the FLASH widget on the home page of the Twestival Hong Kong site.

You can also come back here and watch the LIVE UStream broadcast of the event starting 21:30 (GMT+0800).

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesSoftware

On March 25 a group of Twitter users will join over 200 cities/countries around the world for Twestival. An excuse to get together and network in person with all the people you have exchanged tweets with over the years. While at the same time have chance to win great prices and raise money for Concern Worldwide. Thanks to Staunton's Group, this year's Hong Kong event will be held at Staunton's Wine Bar & Cafe.

By the way there will be small quantities of the limited edition G.O.D. designed and sponsored t-shirts available at the door. So remember to get there early to ensure you get one.

Tickets are available online or at the door of Staunton's Wine Bar & Cafe on the night.

See you all there.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesAnnouncement

SimplyTweetOver the years many Twitter clients had come and gone on various mobile phone platforms: iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc.. Some great ones like TweetDeck, Tweetie, Echofon Pro (formerly TwitterFon) and some flops like TweetStack. I'm glad to see other developers are still trying to out do its established competitors. Recently I came across such a developer, MotionObj, in the form of SimplyTweet. The version I reviewed here is 2.3.

In the past I had enjoyed the Grouping feature of TweetDeck its ability to synchronize created Groups across multiple TweetDeck clients, and the simplicity of the free Echofon.

SimplyTweet -  Push-notificationSimplyTweet has a simple UI and UX, with many of its features layout logically and readily available.

At the top right hand corner is the icon to allow the user to create a new tweet at the bottom is a toolbar containing 5 icons of your choosing. Both of these are the only constant elements on most of the  main screens in SimplyTweet. By default the bottom toolbar has the Friends, Mentions, Messages, Search and More icons shown. You can customized the icons shown in the bottom toolbar by going into More -> Edit button.

SimplyTweet - FriendsThe Friends Timeline is similar to most other Twitter clients, with the avatar image on the left and the body of the tweet on the right in a speech bubble. For each tweet you can immediately tell who is the author, whether the tweet is a tweet that mentioned you (shown with a blue background), and whether the tweet is new since the last update (shown with a blue dot on the right of the tweet).

SimplyTweet -  People-profileClicking on the left side of the tweet will bring up the Profile page for the author of the tweet.

The Profile page allows you to follow or unfollow the individual with your Twitter account. It also enables you to see the usual details of the individual: number of Followers, number of accounts they are following, the number of tweets posted, and whether the account if following your current Twitter account. The latter is something many Twitter clients do not show. The other thing on this page is the list of last 20 tweets the individual posted on Twitter.

SimplyTweet - conversationSimplyTweet -  Search-resultsHere, the bottom toolbar changes to the Options Toolbar, where you can: see the individual's Bio in his/her Twitter account, the conversation your current Twitter account has with the individual, perform a search on Twitterverse for tweets that mention the individual, returns to the Home screen, look at the individual's Favorites items, and More Options. The latter will allow you to Send a Public reply to the individual, add the individual to a View, add some notes about the individual for yourself, or Block/Unblock the individual.

Clicking on the top right hand corner New Tweet icon will create a DM to the individual in question, additionally you have the option to add multiple recipients to your message.

SimplyTweet - Tweet-detailsGoing back to the Friends Timeline, if you click on the right side where the body of the tweet is, will open up the Detailed Tweet screen. As expected you will see the details of the tweet in full, opportunity to mark the tweet as one of your current Twitter account's favorites, the Twitter client used by the individual to post the tweet.

SimplyTweet -  Redirect-tweetAt the top right hand corner the icon is replaced by the Reply icon, for you to reply to the individual regarding the tweet in question. This time the bottom toolbar changes to the Options Toolbar with the following options: see the conversation the individual has regarding the tweet in question, Retweet the current tweet, return to the Home screen, More Options. The latter will allow you to post a hyperlink to the tweet in question within a new tweet, email a hyperlink to the tweet in question,  or to repost the tweet in question as your own. The latter is a bit different but not sure why a Twitter user will need this feature.

SimplyTweet -  Tweet-optionsAn unique feature to SimplyTweet is its ability to send a reply to multiple tweets right from one of the Timeline screens by bringing up the Tweet Options menu. The menu would overlap on top of the tweet in question and the user is presented with the option to: Reply to the tweet, Reply to multiple tweets, or see the conversation behind the tweet in question.

SimplyTweet -  Multiple-replyThis is just one of the examples, that shows the developers of SimplyTweet have carefully thought through the various different use cases of a Twitter user, and try to deliver features in the application to cover as many of  these cases possible. The more I use the application the more I encounter these thoughtful features. As a result this review took me much longer to do than normal, because I want to give it the time it deserves.

SimplyTweet -  Tweet-cancelAnother interesting feature is SimplyTweet's ability to let the user save a tweet in progress as draft for later post. Although, it was only from experience that found out that there can only be one draft tweet at a time.

The New Tweet screen, here you can find the all important features of counting the number of characters, within the 140 characters limit, remaining for the tweet. One good thing about this counter is that it also take into the length of the URL of any attached photos.

SimplyTweet - Tweet-add-photoSimplyTweet -  Tweet-remove-photoSpeaking of photos, there is a Camera icon in the New Tweet screen to allow the user to choose one or more photos/videos from the iPhone's built in Camera Roll, or take a photo/video with the built in camera (video applies to the iPhone 3GS only). Although to discard this attached photo/video is a bit unintuitive, this feature is hidden under the list of options after clicking on the Cancel button.

I wish there is a way to remove a photo/video when browsing the list of attachments.

SimplyTweet -  Tweet-toolsAlso on the New Tweet screen is a More Options icon, which brings up a list of tools one can use in relating to the tweet in progress: Shorten URL, Shorten Text, append a reference to a friend, append a recently used hashtag, or append the URL to the Google Map representation of the user's GPS location.

Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a way for the user to choose the URL Shortener Service that the application use, or at least I had yet to find it. [Updated: Sep 29, 2009, 12:49] As mentioned earlier in this review, there is a great deal of features in this application and it takes some time to discover them all. I totally forgot the SimplyTweet's Settings module in the iPhone's Settings section. This is where you find the ability to change the URL Shortener Service among others:

  • User can change the theme used in the application to one of the five built in ones: Bubbles, Silver, Twilight, Pink or Sunny.
  • Choose the URL Shortener Service for attached videos in tweets.
  • Whether to use Posterous as the Text Shortener.
  • The Retweeting style for tweets.
  • Many settings relating to auto refreshing of timelines.
  • The others I will let you discover in this section as an exercise.

SimplyTweet -  Photo-searchAside from a tweet Search feature that allows the user to filter the results based on geographic distance to the user's present location, SimplyTweet also has a Photo Search. Where by the user can use inclusive and/or exclusive keywords to find photos posted on the Twitterverse. The results are presented in a 4 x 5 thumbnail grid, and the fit of a photo to be included in the search results is by the keywords in the associated tweet. Although I have yet to determine if 20 images is the maximum number of images it will return.

SimplyTweet -  TrendsAmong the Photo Search feature found in the More icon within the main toolbar are other features of interest. They are:

  • View the current Trending topics on Twitter.
  • Register multiple Twitter accounts to the client so the user can easily switch between accounts from within New Tweet screen simply by tapping on the name of the account at the top.
  • View a public timeline of Twitter.
  • Look at all the notes the user had left for various different friends/followers. I believe this is an unique feature, which I had always wanted Twitter to have built-in. I hope that if Twitter ever decide to add this feature, the notes I have added for individuals via SimplyTweet can be sync back to Twitter.
  • View the list of Twitter accounts that have been blocked by any of the associated Twitter accounts.
  • View the list of tweets that the user has marked as Favorites for any of the associated Twitter accounts.
  • View the profile of any Twitter account simply by knowing their Twitter handle.
  • List of Views and to create new ones.

SimplyTweet -  Multiple-accThe concept of Views is similar to Groups in TweetDeck and other Twitter clients. It is a way to organize the list of friends for the current Twitter account. I always believe this to be a very important functionality of any Twitter client for users who have more than a 100 friends on Twitter. Especially if these friends are talkative.

It is very easy to add someone to a View from the View Edit screen or to associate an individual to a View from the Profiles screen. Unfortunately, determining the View membership of an individual is a bit convoluted and needs improvement. For some reason Twitter clients' ability to show individual's Groups/Views memberships is always an issue. It was in TweetDeck and Seesmic, and now in SimplyTweet too.

[Updated: Oct. 22, 2009, 10:00] Today SimplyTweet upgraded itself to 2.5, further improving many of its existing features and adding several new ones; like TextExpander (one of my favorite tool on my Mac) support. Here is a list from the developer:

  • Added TextExpander support (you need TextExpander app installed to use it. Configure shortcuts in TextExpander, enable sharing, and the shortcuts will be available in SimplyTweet).
  • Added support for swipe menu in account view.
  • Added timestamps in account view.
  • Added support for muting/filtering people in lists from Friends, Mentions and Public timelines.
  • Added support for Pic.gd (a URL shortener for photos) in picture viewer.
  • Added the option to hide avatars in Blocked list.
  • Added indicator for the number of contacts loaded so far during refreshing in contact pickers during tweet/DM drafting.
  • Added default recipient settings for in-app emails.
  • Added reply all action in tweet view.
  • Enabled adding to Instapaper from within tweet/DM view (without having to open the built in browser).
  • Tweaked for faster loading.
  • Tweaked to UI and themes.
  • Full landscape support (including timelines, drafting and photo viewer).
  • Modified the behaviour of saving a draft in tweet/DM compose view, it is also automatically saved as a new Note.
  • Modified "Saved Views" to "Lists". To prepare for official support of Twitter List, as well as reflecting the filtering functions in lists.
  • Modified posting of links to not use "-" to save 2 characters.
  • Modified Replay all in swipe menu no longer includes @screennames in the tweet body (use Reply All in tweet for that).
  • Moved Block/Unblock uses and Edit Lists tab into Misc.

Regular users of Twitter web site, who do not use any 3rd party clients, may not understand why a Twitter client can be difficult to create. Existing users of other Twitter clients will appreciate the efforts the developers of SimplyTweet put into the application. Any new, Twitter client users, will find themselves becoming more advanced users just by using SimplyTweet to handle their daily Twitter needs.

The USD4.99 that the developer is asking for in the iTunes App Store is align with most other paid Twitter clients on the high end, but in the case of SimplyTweet it is well worth the money.  I would pay even more for the treasure trough of features I have discovered after using the application for just two weeks.

For readers who are still not convinced MotionObj does have a Lite version of SimplyTweet for free, but without many of the features that made SimplyTweet stands out among its competitors.

Twitter LogoTwitter has been around now for over 3 years and along the way there had been many 3rd party applications and web services. At the beginning years these 3rd party applications and web services had required the Twitter users to provide their Twitter credentials to use the service. This requirement of providing a 3rd party with my credentials of another service had never sit well with me. So I did not use any 3rd party web services that requires my Twitter credentials. This decision was frustrating to me, as during this time Facebook, FriendFeed and others had authentication services that does not require their users to provide their respective credentials to the 3rd parties. As a result I joined the 100s of others who requested Twitter adopt OAuth or alike technology for their site.

Finally beginning of 2009 we started to see signs of Twitter OAuth. This was promising, but now there are 1000s of 3rd party services who had yet to adopt the new authentication method. I then join the campaign to encourage as many of these 3rd party developers to incorporate Twitter OAuth as their authentication method instead of requiring the user's Twitter credentials. Unfortunately, several months after the appearance of Twitter OAuth, we see a vulnerability in the implementation of OAuth, which slowed down this 3rd party adoption. With the cooperation of the member companies of the OAuth organization this vulnerability was quickly identified and resolved.

In the mean time we keep hearing stories of Twitter accounts being compromised, initially it was thought that these incidents came from within Twitter. Since Twitter had an incident where the Administrator password was hacked by a teenager using brute force method. But now stories like the most recent one, 1000s of Twitter Accounts Compromised in Latest Spam Attack, is becoming more and more frequent.

As always the most vulnerable security is through a third party. So try to refrain yourself from trying that latest Twitter service, if it does not use Twitter OAuth. Definitely don't use your Twitter credentials as the login for the 3rd party service.

If you suspect your account may be compromised, change your password immediately.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesadvice

TweetDeck LogoI had been using Twitter for since 2006 and the iPhone since its initial release in 2007. Through out these times I had been searching for the ultimate Twitter client on the iPhone and on my Mac. Before I can get into the review of TweetDeck for iPhone, I have to provide some context. To understand this I must first explain my personal requirements.

My requirements for a Twitter client are quite different from the average Twitter user, but they should be very similar to most people in my situation. I personally do not believe in gaining as many followers as possible for my personal Twitter account, but more the quality of the people (peeps) I follow. Of course, that's another story for the company Twitter accounts I manage. As a result the timelines for the different Twitter accounts I manage are huge and the updates fly by very fast.

So the following are the desired features I look for in any Twitter client:

  • The ability to support multiple Twitter accounts.
  • Since I value the quality of the peeps I follow, I also use Twitter as a source of real time news feed. At the time of writing I am following 1022 peeps; many of them are companies, entities and news accounts. So the ability to place these peeps into groups so that I can read their streams in an organized manner is very important. Otherwise, it is too overwhelming for me to follow so many peeps.
  • The ability to synchronize across devices (Mac <-> Mac, Mac <-> iPhone) is important, since I organize; place them in groups, and add peeps I follow on all different devices.
  • With any popular services on the web they always attract SPAMmers so having the ability to block and unfollow people is important.

I had not tried all the Twitter clients on the iPhone but had tried many free ones: TwitterFon, TweetStack, Twitterific, Nambu, NatsuLion for iPhone, Twinkle and Twittelator, with TwitterFon being my iPhone Twitter client of choice until now. Even though TwitterFon has many of the features I needed, it did not have the support for multiple accounts and Group feature that I needed to manage my timelines.

The Review

TweetDeck had been a great client on the computer desktop written in AIR, and had been my desktop Twitter client of choice on my Mac. Today they released their first iPhone client.

TweetDeck Multiple ColumnsOn initial impression, it definitely does not look like a 1.0 application, but it may be a client too overwhelming for the casual Twitter users.

TweetDeck team had done a great job translating the multi column UI of their desktop application to the iPhone. The multi column is how TweetDeck shows the different groups' timelines the user sets up, including any custom searches. Showing multi columns is not new for a Twitter client. TweetStack had tried but really failed in offering a refined UX in their attempts. You can read about their attempts in my review, as it appears the application itself has been removed from iTunes App Store.

The TweetDeck UI is very iPhone like. For example, from the Home screen the user will use the familiar iPhone swiping gesture to switch between columns. There are the familiar dots near the bottom of the screen to show you which column you are looking at; a bit Palm Pre like with its cards metaphor. At the Top Toolbar is a large Yellow New Tweet icon; which appears on almost all panes, when click will bring up the pane allowing you to enter a new message (tweet). Also tugged a the very top are the statistics of the Twitter API calls and when the counter will be reset.

At the very bottom there is a Toolbar. On the far left, the Update icon shows the total number of new tweets across all your timelines. Followed by a Refresh button, which you should not hit too much, fearing that you will exceed the Twitter API hourly limits. Next is the button to add more columns, but there is a limit like its Desktop sibling of 10 columns, including any saved search columns. After than is the Settings button which brings up the Accounts & Settings pane. Lastly is the More icon which slides up two buttons Quick Follow and Sync Columns. More on those later. The Update and More icons in the Bottom Toolbar is constant on almost all panes.

TweetDeck Accounts & SettingsA few versions ago the Desktop sibling introduced the connection to a user's Facebook timeline, but here this appears to be omitted. On the Accounts & Settings pane is where you add login credentials for multiple Twitter accounts. I trust that these account credentials are not part of the information that synchronized to the TweetDeck server. Which brings up the feature of setting up a TweetDeck account to allow your Group settings to be synchronized across TweetDeck clients. Having a TweetDeck account is not necessary to user the TweetDeck client on the iPhone or on the desktop, but without it you will not gain the benefits of cross client synchronization.

This synchronization appears to be still at 1.0 caliber I added peeps to Groups on the Desktop client and they did not get reflected on the iPhone client. The only times that they synchronization appeared to work are when there there were no columns at all accept for the initial ones and when a new column was added. Given that this is version 1.0, I would expect some glitches.

TweetDeck Multiple AccountsSetting up multiple Twitter accounts in the client was very simply. After the credentials are verified, the list of added accounts are displayed.

Though I do not have so many Twitter accounts that I can test the maximum number of accounts you can add to the list, but I expect that would not be a problem for most users.

Clicking on the right arrow brings up the pane that allows you to edit the credentials of the account and TweetDeck performs a validation after the change, so you will need to make sure you have a network connection when doing so.

TweetDeck Single ColumnGoing back to the Home screen of the application you can click on any column to zoom (bring that column) into focus.

There is a HUD notification on the top left hand corn when timelines are updated with new tweets.

Clicking on the Updates icon on the toolbar at the bottom will either show the number of new tweets in each timelines or a message indicating there are no updates. In this same menu is also where the user can mark all the tweets in each of the timeline as seen.

Earlier I mentioned that the user can use the iPhone's swipe gesture to flip between columns (timelines), when the user is viewing a particular column they also have the option of clicking on the large arrow near the bottom right corner to flip through the columns.

You may think the arrow is too large that it covers part of the tweets, but since you can click on the tweet to open up the TweetDetail pane to view the details of the tweet this becomes a minor annoyance.

TweetDeck Tweet Details

The TweetDetail (I think this should be called "Tweet Details") pane is where you see the details of the tweet. Information like who it is from, the sender's Twitter account, the location of the sender and the tweet itself.

Here is also where you find all the actions you can perform on the tweet, like: Reply, Send a DM to the sender, Retweet (RT) the tweet, send the tweet as email to someone, and mark the tweet as Favorite.

In the Top Toolbar is a button to return to the timeline where the current tweet appeared, and the familiar Yellow New Tweet button.

In addition to the Update and More icons in the Bottom Toolbar there is a icon to bring the user back to the Home screen where the user can flip through the list of columns (timelines).

Although there is an arrow on the right of the Sender Profile summary, you can click on anywhere on the grey area to bring up the peep Profile pane.

TweetDeck Peep ProfileThe peep Profile pane is where you can see a peep's Twitter bio, his real name as entered in his Twitter account, his Twitter handle, the number of followers he has, the number of peeps s/he is following, and you can also bring up the peep's most resent tweets.

The actions you can perform are numerous for most Twitter client. The typical send a public message, send a DM and stop following this peep are there, but TweetDeck also added blocking and unblocking the peep. Of course it also has the functions to add/remove the peep to/from any Group the user has defined.

Again the familiar and consistent 4 icons positioned in the Top Toolbar and the Bottom Toolbar are here also.

Clicking on the Yellow Tweet icon in the Top Toolbar will bring up the New Tweet pane.

TweetDeck New TweetThe New Tweet pane needs very little explanations as it is similar to any Twitter client.

The one things that is strange is the lack of a function to bring up a list of the peeps the user are following to allow for the reference of peep(s) in the tweet.

On the Desktop version of TweetDeck, entering the "@" or "d" character will bring up a auto fill list generated from the list of peeps the user is following, which is quite handy. I hope this was an oversight.

Although, I do understand their potential design logic, where new tweets that are not replies or RTs do not usually have peep references. But I don't think TweetDeck should restrict this use of the New Tweet pane. For example, I often add peep references to a new tweet originated by me to call attention to someone about my tweet. Another would be in FollowFriday.

On the left side of the Bottom Toolbar indicates the Twitter account being used to send the tweet. Clicking on the name of the account will cycle through the list of Twitter accounts the user had associated with TweetDeck. Next on the Bottom Toolbar are the icons to allow you to Add a Link, Add an Image, and Add a Location.

BUG: In the current version, the Add a Link function does not seem to work. Clicking on it does nothing.

It is a bit awkward that to send the composed tweet the user has to move his hand up to the top right hand corner of the screen to click on the Send button. This is again understandable, since the "return" button on the virtual keyboard is use to create  a new line in the tweet, which very few users would do, but without two hands abd a modifier key as in a real keyboard. The strange thing is that the Desktop version of TweetDeck does not use a modifier key and hitting the "return" or "enter" key in that version will send the tweet.

TweetDeck Add New ColumnAfter the sending of a tweet the application will return you to the last pane you're on. Which is another nice touch to make the who interaction much smoother.

On the Home screen of TweetDeck there was an Add Column button. Clicking on this scree will bring up the Add New Column pane.

Here you can choose the account the column (timeline) is associated with, the type of column it is: User Group, Twitter Search or All Friends.

The Twitter Search type column will  ask the user to enter a search phrase to perform the Twitter search and then use the phrase as the name of the column.

Obviously the All Friends type column does not have any options and only one of this kind of column is allowed.

The User Group type column will ask the user to provide a name for the column and offer the Select Users button to add members to the Group.

BUG: Unfortunately, this group adding feature crash the application for me in the current version.

BUG: Matter of fact, in the curernt version, anything actions relating to the alteration of Group memberships will crash the application.

TweetDeck Synchronization

The other icon consistent in the Bottom Toolbar is the More icon, which brings up two buttons: Quick Follow and Sync Columns.

The Quick Follow feature is not available in many Twitter client. It allows ad hoc entry of a Twitter handle (Username) to begin following the peep.

The Sync Columns button initiates the synchronization of the columns between the iPhone application and the TweetDeck server.

If the synchronization process finds any differences, it will first presents a list of these changes. Giving the user the option to apply the changes: addition or deletion, or not.

TweetDeck Settings

This is one of the most useful feature that any Twitter client can have, especially for ones that have an iPhone and Desktop versions.

Earlier I mentioned that the user can add images and links to a tweet. TweetDeck allows the choice of image hosting service, but at the moment these choices are between the popular TwicPic and the new comer yFrog. Strangely it does not offer any choices for URL shortner service like it does in the Desktop version.

Conclusion

We had not seen a Twitter client of this caliber since Tweetie for Mac. TweetDeck has definitely raised the bar on Twitter client quality, functionalities and UX. From now on any Twitter clients that do not at least match the features of TweetDeck for iPhone will be seen as under par. Of course, these new clients will also have to have a very polished UI with a even better UX to win demanding iPhone users' hearts.

If you are just getting into Twitter, I recommend you use TwitterFon for now, at least until you are familiar with all you can do with Twitter. When you are comfortable then graduate to TweetDeck for iPhone at a later date, or before you jump in you can give TweetDeck a try on your computer.

Eveeryone else what are yo waiting for? For the price of TweetDeck for iPhone, FREE, how can you go wrong? Go get it now on the iTunes App Store.

After beating CNN (Ted Turner) to the 1 million follower mark on Twitter, Ashton Kutcher; or @aplusk as he is known on Twitter, this evening (US CST) pulled a guerilla marketing stunt in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, during a massive Tweetup in front of the CNN building. Kutcher and his wife, Demi Moore @MrsKutcher, tweeted about the event and brought over 2000+ viewers to the live stream on UStream.tv.

Has this stunt achieve anything? Publicity for Ashton Kutcher? Publicity for Kutcher's company Katalyst Films? Kutcher once explained the meaning of his handle "aplusk", as "A+" is the highest rating at Katalyst. Did this bring any attention to Malaria Foundation International? Often the true intentions of guerilla marketing is hard to pin point. Sometimes it will have unexpected consequences and results.

Guerilla marketing is not a new concept but execution by celebrities like Kutcher is. Will more celebs adopt this approach? We will need more understanding law enforcements for that to happen.

Ever since I started using TweetDeck this past January, as my desktop Twitter client, it had been my client of choice and I wished there is a similar client on my iPhone. Just a quick description of why TweetDeck is not a normal Twitter client. It has the standard functions to allow users to see @Replies and DMs (Direct Message), perform operations to Follow and Unfollow people. The additional function that TweetDeck has, which most other clients don't (except for the recently introduced desktop client Seesmic Desktop), is it ability to allow users to create Groups to manage the 100s or 1000s of messages (tweets) from the people you're following. This problem is worsten when you are following 100s or more people (peeps). On average, as of this writing, there are over 2 million tweets a day posted onto the Twitter network. Without the use of clients like TweetDeck it is not practical to follow more than a 100 peeps.

Since the introduction of Twitter API, there had been many 3rd party Twitter clients created for the iPhone. The two most popular being Tweetie (paid) and TwittedFon (free), but neither allow the user to place people they follow into groups like in TweetDeck.

TweetStack Toolbar

That is not until the release of TweetStack, the application refers to these TweetDeck like grouping function as "Stacks". The user can create several different types of Stacks: Friend, Search, TwitPic and Location. All of which are represented as labeled icons in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen.

The number of icons shown across the toolbar, including the All, Replies, DM, Favorites and More icons can be changed within the application settings, accessible from the iPhone's Settings icon.

TweetStack Tweets

The default is to show 5 icons, with 6, 7 and 8 as options. When there are more icons/Stacks available than specified, the far right icon will change into the "More" icon. Clicking it will display a list of stacks to choose from.

Clicking on a peep's avatar icon will slide up a pane for the user to view the individual's Profile, "Add to Group" or "Create Group".

Clicking on a tweet will bring up one of two Tweet settings pane depending on whether the tweet was a reply to someone or not. The version  that is will have an additional "Load Conversation" button to see the entire conversation of a tweet.

Double clicking on the empty spaces in the stack will bring up the Stack settings pane, which contains the buttons:

  • "Mark Read"
  • "Edit"
  • "Delete"

The ability to bring this Stack Settings pane up is a hit and miss, unless there are no tweets in the stack. Most of the time, the double tapping gesture will invoke the Tweet Settings pane. Some times instead of bringing up the Stack or Tweet settings pane, the double tap gesture will mark all the tweets in the Stack as read.

TweetStack Navigation Bar

On the top of the page is a navigation bar. The purpose of the navigations are fairly self explanatory except for one, go "Back" a screen, "Refresh" the display, not sure what the "up arrow" icon mean, create a "New" tweet and "Add a new Stack".

The "up arrow" button performs an upload of the stacks, but not sure where these uploads went and how to download the uploaded stacks.

A welcome feature in TweetStack is it's ability to import the columns from TweetDeck; since it is the most popular Twitter client after the Twitter.com web site. You will need to follow the instructions on TweetStack's web site before you add the Twitter account to TweetStack. If you had already added the Twitter account you will have to delete it first before following TweetStack's instructions.

The advantage TweetStack has over other clients is with it's grouping feature, unfortunately, it is overshadowed by it's quirkiness and unpolished feel. It choose to use slide up panes instead of switching windows for displaying settings, which there are many. I don't think this is the right UI choice.

TweetStack Tweet Settings TweetStack Tweet Settings with Conversation TweetStack Peep Settings

TweetStack Edit Stack

For some reason the Edit Friend Stack screen does not show all the individuals that I follow. Plus there are several individuals who had their Twitter ID shown instead of their Twitter Username or Real Name. This may be caused by quirkiness in the Twitter API, but I did not see this in other Twitter clients on the iPhone.

The individuals that are shown does not appear to be based on any particular selection criterions from the 100s of individuals I am following.

There are no indicators to mark an individual in the list as already belonging to another Friend Stack, this is one of the things that TweetDeck does very well. I agree that an individual may belong to more than one Friend Stack, but it will still be nice to be able to see whether an individual has an other Friend Stack membership.

Hopefully TweetStack's next version will be much more stable and some of its usability elements refined. For people who follow more than a 100 people the USD2.99 it is asking for on iTunes App Store may be worth it.

Note: the version I reviewed above is 1.0.1 and the developer had already informed me that 1.0.2 with many bug fixes and improvements had been submitted to Apple for approval. As soon as the new version is available on the iTunes App Store, I will do an update of this review.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesiphone, review