Tweetie has been my favorite Mac Twitter client since the day of its initial release. Unfortunately, the legendary app has been showing its age lately with a lack of updates to accommodate new Twitter features like lists and official Retweets.
I’ve tried to replace it with Weet, Nambu, Kiwi, TweetDeck, Echofon and a host of others to no avail. No matter how many times I say I’ll never go back, within 24 hours I’m right back where I started, using Tweetie and cursing my lack of willpower.
When Twitter purchased Atebits for the legendary Tweetie iPhone app, many of us thought it spelled doom for Tweetie for Mac. Highly placed individuals at Twitter have since made statements that indicated they weren’t particularly interested in pursuing a Mac client.
However, yesterday the rumor mill came alive that a new version, rebranded Twitter for Mac, would launch with today’s Mac App Store. Tweetie creator Loren Brichter made good on those rumors and today we’re taking a look at the brand new official Twitter client for Mac. Oh, and it’s free so be sure to go grab it!
Twitter for Mac is a major overhaul from Tweetie, both visually and functionally. We’ll start by taking a look at the new interface then jump into the features. Here’s a first look at the new app:
I think the new interface is downright beautiful. It’s taken the dark sidebar that made Tweetie so iconic even further by bringing it all the way to the top and adding some really nice translucency. Since I manage three Twitter accounts, this sidebar is what kept me coming back to Tweetie and I’m thrilled that they’ve maintained that unmatched multi-account experience with the little light indicators and fast account switching.
In case you haven’t noticed, the trend in Mac application design is moving towards a borderless experience (see Quicktime). Twitter for Mac picks up this trend and strips out any semblance of that iconic Mac metal frame, including the titlebar.
Many users are crying foul at this and Loren Bricther has cleverly fielded a comment or two with witty responses. While I love the appearance of the borderless app, I do admit that it’s a little tricky to move around at first, but any awkwardness fades after mere minutes of use. The app moves just fine if you click and drag anywhere across the top or in the sidebar. I don’t think the quirk is enough to make Tweetie fans switch to something else, but it might be enough to prevent a few new users from switching over.
The new tweet window is located along the bottom like in Tweetie, but is a little harder to spot. I recommend just getting used to hitting Command-N as a shortcut. As you can see in the screenshot below, a few other options have been added here as well.
The tweet window shares the same translucent trick as the sidebar, this time along the bottom. I was initially concerned about the lack of a way to switch users here, but you can simply click the avatar to accomplish this.
Now that we’ve taken the new interface for a spin, let’s dive in and see what new functionality has been added. As I mentioned above, Tweetie was really starting to lag behind in the feature arena so this update was greatly needed!
You’ll notice a few new sidebar icons have been added (significantly adding to the height of the app). The first of these is the new lists tab, shown below.
This feature is pretty simple and merely gives you a gateway to the lists that you’ve created. As far as I can tell, there’s no actual list management features here, only the ability to filter your stream according to the users in a given list. Nothing spectacular, but definitely an appreciated addition.
In Tweetie, you had to double-click your avatar to see your profile. In Twitter for Mac, a dedicated profile tab has been added to make this easier. From here you can view your timeline, replies, favorites and account info.
Clicking on another user’s avatar will likewise take you to their profile. At the bottom left of this tab you can see whether or not you’re following the user. Unfortunately, it seems the app has lost the ability to check whether or not a given user is following you. This was present in Tweetie but if it’s here in Twitter for Mac, I haven’t found it.
The search feature is still present and maintains the ability to save your searches. One new feature here though is the inclusion of a list of trending topics. These appear in the search tab before you’ve typed anything into the search field.
Back when Tweetie first launched, retweeting was something that users were doing all on their own without the aid of an official Twitter feature. Twitter eventually adopted their own method of the credit-giving mechanism, which is supported in the new app. Hovering over a tweet gives you the option to Reply, Favorite or Retweet.
Alternatively, you can “quote” a tweet using Option-T. This doesn’t use “RT” or “via” like other apps but rather places the tweet in quotes with the original poster’s username followed by a colon and the text of the tweet.
One feature that constantly bugged me about Tweetie is how late it seemed to get Tweets. My iPad would often notify me of an @reply minutes before Tweetie would catch up, despite manual refreshing. This problem is a thing of the past with Twitter for Mac because tweets are no longer grabbed in groups every few minutes. Instead they come in live as they’re tweeted with remarkable speed.
Tweets come in so fast now that having the app visible while you’re working can actually cause a great amount of distraction. You definitely can’t complain about progress though, it’s quite a thing of beauty to watch all that data pour in.
The tweets aren’t the only thing that got a speed boost either. The app is full of lightning fast and silky smooth animations.
Drag and Drop Tweets
This feature surprised me a little and I admit that I probably don’t fully grasp its significance yet. Tweets now respond to drag and drop actions.
The functionality is much like any text selected in OS X. When you drag it around, you get a text clipping that can be thrown on your desktop for safe keeping, inserted into a text field as plain text, or thrown into TextEdit as a fully formatted tweet, avatar, links and all. You can also drag any tweet into the compose window to quote it.
The Preferences for the app remain fairly basic. You can set shortcuts, change menu bar behavior, add accounts, set Growl notifications/dock badges and adjust a few more standard settings.
The Big MacHeist Secret!
If you purchased the MacHeist nano bundle, you get access to a super-secret preference panel! Simply hold Control+Option+Command after your open the Twitter help menu to find the secret backdoor. From here you’ll have to insert your email address and Nano Bundle license to enable the extra panel.
So what’s missing? Brichter has really hit a home run here as far as I’m concerned but there are admittedly a few issues. For starters, you can’t adjust the font size (Brichter promises a fix soon), so users with not-so-great vision might have some accessibility issues until 2.1.
Another bug comes in the inability to post a link beginning with “www” (no http://). Links are automatically shortened with Twitter for Mac and if you try including something along the lines of “www.apple.com” in a tweet, you’ll likely get an error and you simply won’t be able to post until you add the mandatory “http://” to the beginning.
These are of course in addition to the issue I mentioned above regarding the loss of the “follow back” status from Tweetie 1. Overall, these issues are extremely minor for such a big release and most or all of them will no doubt be fixed by 2.1. The biggest possible exclusion I see here is the apparent lack of any sort of sync with other versions of Twitter. Now that there are several official Twitter clients (iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc.), I’d like to see them all play nicely together regarding replies and DMs that have already been read.
Twitter’s strategy of breaking into the app world has already been discussed at length, but this marks yet another decisive blow to the third party app developers that have helped make Twitter the huge success that it is today.
Twitter for Mac is a beautiful, lightning fast client with almost every feature you could want and it’s available completely free of charge with zero ads. This will make it extremely hard for other Mac apps to compete. You can see this at work in the recent decision by Tapmates to scrap their upcoming Twitter client.
Less competition is ultimately a bad thing for users because the variety and quality can suffer in the long run. Hopefully developers will continue to rise to the challenge of keeping Twitter apps innovative and fresh.
With all of that said, I’m thrilled about the update. We’ve waited far too long for a new version of Tweetie for Twitter to come along and screw everything up by gobbling up the company that created it. Fortunately, Twitter’s acquisition of Atebits hasn’t ruined our favorite client at all, in fact, it has probably made it better than it could’ve ever been without inside access into the world of Twitter inc.
There will still be plenty of column fans that stick with TweetDeck and no shortage of syncing fans that stay with Echofon, but this Tweetie fan will most certainly not be switching to anything but Twitter for Mac any time soon.
Tweetie has been rebranded to Twitter for Mac and sports a beautiful new interface in addition to improved performance and some much-needed features. A few tiny bugs didn't affect the rating but a lack of any sort of syncing option keeps it from a perfect 10.9