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Summary:

Get your tweet on and shake your verbs, Tweetie — the much-celebrated iPhone Twitter client — has hit the Mac OS X desktop. As regular readers will know, I adore my iPhone and I’m an avid tweeter. A few months back, I weighed the options and, […]

tweetie_icon

Get your tweet on and shake your verbs, Tweetie — the much-celebrated iPhone Twitter client — has hit the Mac OS X desktop.

As regular readers will know, I adore my iPhone and I’m an avid tweeter. A few months back, I weighed the options and, despite there being an array of free alternatives, the iPhone version of Tweetie, available for $2.99, was my favorite Twitter client.

Over on Twitter there’s been some serious buzz surrounding the release of the desktop version of Tweetie. Available now, either for $14.99 or as a free ad-supported version, Tweetie for Mac blends a streamlined user interface with a host of essential features, including multiple account support, threaded conversations, URL shortening and image uploads.

From iPhone to Desktop

Every seasoned Twitter user’s stream is more akin to a flood of data: names, links, descriptions, useful posts, phatic musings and more. Opening Tweetie for the first time, the most immediately noticeable and pleasing aspect of this desktop application is the streamlined interface.

tweetie_main_interface

The main Tweetie window takes up but a slither of screen real estate. Along the left of the window are the main navigation icons, including avatars for shifting through multiple accounts, and shortcuts to view @replies, DMs and more.

The top of the Tweetie window displays exactly where you are in a given thread — incredibly useful as a visual aid when drilling down through conversations and replies. The main body of the Tweetie window contains your stream, filtering out different information depending on which section you’re in.

Minimal & Sleek Looks

Tweetie’s streamlined approach to presenting and navigating the Twitterverse is also applied to the application’s aesthetic styling. Where Twhirl is garishly on-brand and Tweetdeck is a visual overload, Tweetie’s visual style is, despite the vast quantity of information, minimal and sleek.

Only the most essential icons are on display (other functions are accessed via right-clicking) and clicking through icons to navigate to different sections causes tweets to swish and slide around in an incredibly satisfying way.

tweetie_multiple_accounts

Individual tweets keep the visual clutter to a minimum. Alongside the message itself and @reply button, the user’s profile picture and name is presented. Setting aside the @reply button, clicking a username within the message body takes you to that user’s stream, alternatively, double-clicking the profile picture takes you directly to the user’s Twitter stream.

When new tweets arrive, Tweetie’s OS X menu bar icon glows blue, while within the app, updated streams are marked with helpful blue dots. Of course, it all seems so obvious, but that’s because navigating Tweetie is intuitive — allowing you to breeze through conversation threads with ease.

tweetie_register

It’s worth noting that the ad-supported free download of Tweetie drops an ad into your stream every hour. The ads genuinely don’t intrude or impede your tweeting: They look good and appear rarely, for $14.99, though, you’re able to order a registration code to disable them.

Getting The Message Across

At the bottom left of the main Tweetie window is the compose button. It seems odd to place the button for such an oft-used function so out of the way from the main application interface. Although you can access the same function via the Command-N keyboard shortcut, the tiny button feels totally disjointed from the actual application.

The tweet composer opens up in a separate window, meaning that the integrity of Tweetie’s sleek ‘n’ chic design isn’t impacted. Plus, you’re able to focus on writing your 140 character musing without distraction from the main stream.

tweetie_composer

The composer window also packs in a broad range of tweet-enhancing features. For starters, users with multiple accounts can select from which account they would like to send the tweet. If your tweet is over 140 character, Tweetie offers to post via Twitlonger. Plus, via a dropdown menu, you’re able to automagically shorten URLs or add an image.

The latter function can also be accessed by simply dragging and dropping an image into the compose window. When you click the Post button, Tweetie will then upload the image to a Twitter image hosting service — you can choose from Imageshack’s YFrog, TwitPic, Twitgoo, or Posterous.

tweetie_add_image1

The selection of URL-shortening services to choose from is excellent. All the usual suspects are there — TinyURL, Is.gd and Tr.im — but there’s also feature-rich Bit.ly and URL-squishing newcomer Diggbar.

Bit.ly is my shortener of choice, however there’s no account integration for the service. This means there’s no simple way for me to track a specific link and gather stats such as number of visitors over a given period. Although I’m not as familiar with Diggbar, I’d imagine that users of Digg’s fledgling URL shortener may be hankering for account integration, too.

There are a few outstanding issues with tweeting, though. For starters, prolific tweeters may be dismayed to discover that there’s no drafts functionality. Furthermore — and this is a major issue for me — there doesn’t seem to be a method for deleting tweets once you’ve posted them.

Navigating the Twitterverse

Finding your way through the torrent of tweets is rendered effortless with Tweetie. Alongside the intuitive click and double-click features mentioned earlier, it’s also possible to navigate the Twitterverse via a variety of keyboard shortcuts — a real time-saving boon for power users.

tweetie_keyboard_shortcuts

Hash tags are clickable, too, instigating an immediate search for the tag. The search section also incorporates trending topics, however it’s executed in an incredibly obtuse way — clicking the magnifying glass icon on the search page brings up a list of currently trending topics. Clicking one of the topics in the list instigates a search. For such an important feature it’s all but hidden and clunky to access.

tweetie_trending_topics

There are also a few other features missing which, although I tried, it was difficult to adapt to life without them. For starters, there’s no refresh button on the main tweet stream. As such, users hoping to refresh regularly will find it frustrating to have to use the Command-Shift-R shortcut, or simply wait for an auto-refresh.

I was also surprised to discover that Tweetie doesn’t support groups, allowing you to place users in different categories and filter through your tweets. It’s a feature that, when viewing and organizing your contacts in such depth, would have been perfect for the desktop version of Tweetie.

tweetie_profile_page

Moving on, the way in which Tweetie renders profile pages follows suit with the rest of the app with a clear design, integrating core features with a couple of useful twists. Stats such as updates, favorites, followers and bio are all on display, accessed in more detail via a quick click.

Clicking the cog icon on the profile page opens a menu with options to @reply, DM, or follow the user. Most useful, though, is that Tweetie clearly tells you if this user is following you. Such an unexpected feature, yet so obvious in retrospect and, especially for social networking via Twitter, inherently useful.

I’ll Get Back To You

The mentions page, represented by the @ button on the left side of the Tweetie interface, works just like Twitter’s own mention page — grabbing any instance of your @username from the Twitterverse. You can even double-click a message to view the conversation thread in full, however this feature seems a little haphazard. It’s still not entirely clear to me when Tweetie will actually display a conversation thread; sometimes a double-click just loads that single message on its own.

tweetie_conversation_threads1

Although there’s a reply button on all tweets, there are no dedicated buttons for DM, repost or favorite. Instead, right-clicking the message body brings up a menu with a variety of options: reply, repost, copy link to tweet, direct message, mark as favorite and open in browser. This isn’t ideal, though, as it’s preferable that frequently used functions — such as DM and repost — have a dedicated button.

The DM section breaks with Tweetie’s overall styling. First, there’s an instant messenger-style conversation overview page, displaying links to all your active DM-exchanges in chronological order. Clicking through brings up an iChat-style page, featuring back and forth tweets in text bubbles. It looks strange and certainly feels out of place but, setting aside the aesthetic, works correctly.

tweetie_dm

Summing Up

Tweetie’s success is that it simplifies what could be a complex experience — dealing with a Titanic stream of incoming information and interacting with a multitude of other users. Just like its little brother on iPhone, the application is visually streamlined and loads quickly.

There are drawbacks though: there’s a missing refresh button, no method for deleting tweets, the compose button needs to be integrated more clearly with the overall design and, although it’s not essential, the next version of Tweetie will ideally incorporate organizing contacts in to groups.

But these few issues don’t impact on the overall experience of Tweetie, an app that incorporates a wealth of features for the seasoned tweeter and yet is inviting and easy to pick up for Twitter newcomers. Twitter users looking for a well-designed, feature-rich client should certainly download Tweetie today.

  1. Great review Olly – I’ve been very impressed with the app so far..

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  2. Great review, but what’s the deal with the additional avatars in the toolbar. Are those for multiple accounts?

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  3. Without group support, I will be sticking with Nambu which is another great Twitter Client. Though Tweetie certainly has some good features.

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  4. I’ve been loving Tweetie. Loren has posted the reasons for not using groups on his blog and his reasons are good ones. I deleted my other Twitter clients the minute I downloaded Tweetie for Mac because I think it is just that good!

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  5. @Galley – The additional avatars are indeed for multiple accounts. Clicking a given icon moves the focus over to the respective account. Very smooth and easy to use.

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  6. @art – I don’t think I agree with Loren’s reasons for not integrating groups in Tweetie. There’s a clear demand, as is evidenced by my review, the comments here and – notably – Tweetie’s competitors such as Nambu integrating groups. It’s really an important feature and one that I think Tweetie would only be improved by if it were integrated.

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  7. @Olly,

    Thank you for a great review. Loren posted that the version 1.0.1 just came out. Now Tweetie will connect to the service using secure HTTPS, so everybody is invited to update.

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  8. There is one more major feature. In search view, Window->Open in New Window will peel off that search view in to a separate window. Also In profile view single clicking on a profile picture will open that picture in a separate window. It also supports global hot keys.

    http://www.manu-j.com/blog/tweetie-tips-tricks-guide/250/

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  9. “There are drawbacks though: there’s a missing refresh button, no method for deleting tweets” Whilst I agree with the no delete option being a problem, why would you need a refresh button? The twitter stream is auto-refreshed; you get to choose from auto-scrolling to the top of your stream or maintaining scroll position when new tweets arrive, (this is under preferences). Otherwise great app and great review.

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  10. with regards to conversation view being haphazard: this is most likely because in order for this to work, the tweets need to have their in_reply_to_status_id properly set. what that means is that the user would need to reply to a specific tweet (whether by clicking the reply arrow on the web interface, or through a client of their choice) rather than simply typing @username. just typing @username will link to an account page, but it doesn’t know what tweet to link to. trying to load a conversation with one of these types of links will obviously fail, since it’s not part of a conversation from a technical standpoint – it’s a free-floating link to a userpage. you can easily see the difference on twitter’s website in the byline for a tweet. if it’s a reply to a specific tweet, it will say ‘in reply to _____’, and clicking this will take you to the tweet in question.

    other apps have similar functions (eventbox offers a conversation view as well) but sadly it’s not a client problem, it’s an issue with the backend/the way people reply.

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  11. @Daisy – Very well explained, thank you.

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  12. [...] Nambu, my current desktop Twitter solution. Olly Farshi over at our sister site TheAppleBlog has a full review, but I wanted to look at it specifically with web work in [...]

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  13. I like what I see so far. Some of the choices make a lot of sense to me, but will take some getting used to as an EventBox user.

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  14. I’ve been waiting for this – everything Twitteriffic is but MORE, and NICER. This is what Mac software is all about :D

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    1. @Andrew, I have been using Twitterrific and am now trying Tweetie and there’s one thing Twitterrific does wonderfully that Tweetie can’t do: it pops up when tweets arrive, then disappears when you click on another window or after xx seconds display time (all user-configurable). Killer feature.

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  15. The only thing lacking is Growl support – hopefully coming soon.

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  16. @Andrew

    Growl support is coming, as soon as 1.1. If you go through the package, Growl.framework is already included in there.

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  17. [...] We started the week not with a bang, but with a tweet. In the early hours of Monday morning, Loren Brichter (otherwise known as iPhone developer Atebits), launched Tweetie for Mac, a desktop version of the immensely popular iPhone Twitter client. Those of you who have taken to summarizing your life as a series of hastily written 140 character messages, should check out my in-depth look at Tweetie. [...]

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  18. [...] I’m away from the computer, I really miss the multi-column/window layout of programs like Tweetie for the Mac, Nambu, and TweetDeck, but Twitterific’s Sources page goes a long way to making me feel more [...]

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  19. [...] Tweetie: Now in Tasty Mac Desktop Flavor Over on Twitter there’s been some serious buzz surrounding the release of the desktop version of Tweetie. Available now, either for $14.99 or as a free ad-supported version, Tweetie for Mac blends a streamlined user interface with a host of essential features, including multiple account support, threaded conversations, URL shortening and image uploads. (tags: mac twitter tweetie apple) [...]

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  20. [...] first, I thought this sounded like only half an idea. There are already some great Twitter clients in the Mac software space, most of which have integrated search functions built right in, so how [...]

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  21. [...] 22, 2009 by Darrell Etherington and No one has commented Perhaps you’ve grown tired of Tweetie, Twitterific or Socialite. Before you resort to Adobe AIR apps like Seesmic and TweetDeck, give [...]

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