Tweetie has long been my iPhone Twitter client of choice, and news of a desktop application being developed certainly caught my attention. Launched today, Tweetie for Mac represents an extension to atebits already popular iPhone client. It’s the first time that an iPhone application has been ported to the desktop with such fanfare, and is certainly worth taking a look at.
The interface takes a slightly different approach to a standard Twitter client, but still feels incredibly natural and easy-to-use. Performance is excellent, the app is free (for an ad-supported version), and it offers a comprehensive set of features. We’ll be taking a look at what’s on offer, and walking you through what Tweetie for Mac is capable of.
A “Complete Rewrite”
Loren Brichter, President and Founder of atebits, sums up the thinking behind Tweetie for Mac well:
I kept hearing people say that they used Tweetie on their iPhone even when they were sitting at their desk, because the experience was so much better than anything that existed on the desktop. Tweetie for Mac should let them keep their iPhones in their pocket a little more often.
People will certainly have high expectations of a desktop Tweetie port, but my experience so far would suggest that you’re unlikely to be disappointed. Tweetie offers everything you’d expect – from your timeline to trends – all with an incredibly polished user interface. Rather than being a simple port, the desktop version is a “complete rewrite”, with a faster core and a more stable back-end. These changes are likely to be pushed down to Tweetie 2.0 for the iPhone in the near future.
Accounts, Tweets & Composing
After entering your account information, you’ll be displayed with the main window for browsing and composing tweets:
A set of navigation icons down the left hand side illustrate the different views available, followed by a list of the most recent tweets (or replies, direct messages etc). This is the area where multiple accounts are handled, displaying an icon for each. A few users have voiced concerns that this section takes up more space than necessary – it’s very much down to your taste. Tweetie might not be a particularly unobtrusive app, but makes up for it in other areas.
When viewing an image linked to from a tweet, Tweetie will display it in a simple pop-out window rather than requiring you switch applications to a browser. This is a great trick and I’m surprised it hasn’t been done elsewhere before.
Composing new tweets is remarkably simple, supporting drag and drop inclusion of links and images. These are automatically uploaded to the photo sharing service of your choice. A character count is displayed in the top right of the window and URLs can be shortened with one click before posting.
Viewing direct messages doesn’t take the standard format, electing to display messages as a iChat-esque conversation. You’re initially presented with a list of contacts who you’ve exchanged messages with. Tweetie then allows you to drill down into any of these conversations, displaying your current location through a breadcrumb trail near the top of the window:
This makes it far clearer to understand how a back-and-forth exchange of messages occurred. This emphasis on conversation doesn’t remain solely in the DM view, and also applies to viewing regular tweets. It’s possible to view @replies in context so that you see a full conversation rather than simply isolated messages.
If you’d like to quickly share a link via Twitter, this can be easily achieved using in-built bookmarklet functionality. It works with any browser, and opens up a small composition window containing the current URL:
Searching is fully supported through Tweetie, either in the default window or a new one. When you reach the end of the search results, another search is automatically performed to populate the list with results from further back in time. Unfortunately, there’s no way to save search results at this stage – something which would be great to see in a future version.
Only a few preference options are available for Tweetie, allowing you to change a few display settings, and choose which URL Shortening/Image service to use:
Advanced settings include the ability to adjust keyboard shortcuts, alter notification settings, and specify how to handle links within messages.
After spending a while using Tweetie, it has certainly become my desktop client of choice. The interface and animation is subtle enough not to distract, and conversation tracking seems immediately natural. There are a few limitations such as the inability to save searches and no view for displaying a list of followers within the app. These aren’t huge sticking points for me and I’ll be purchasing the ad-free version shortly.
Tweetie for Mac is available now, with a full-featured, free version supported by FusionAds. Registration will disable the ads, and licenses are available for a two-week introductory price of $14.95 (normally $19.95).
If you’ve tried out Tweetie today, let me know what you think! Is it likely to become the must-have Twitter software for OS X?