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I’m fickle, always switching allegiances to Twitter apps. I’ve been jumping between Tweetie and SimplyTweet for months. Between them, they meet all my tweeting needs. But, long before they existed, there was Twitterrific. It’s been installed on every one of my iPhones, but rarely used. That’s about to change.
Made by Mac stalwart Iconfactory, Twitterrific is the grandfather of iPhone Twitter apps, launched in January 2007 when Twitter was still young, and winning plaudits for its beautiful UI. The latest update, version 2.1, is as gorgeous as ever. Preserving its beauty while squeezing in more features must’ve been painfully challenging, but somehow the dev team at Iconfactory managed to do it.
2.1 brings the usual stability and bug fixes you’d expect. To choose just one notable fix: the significant speed improvement in typing and deleting – on its own – makes this feel like an all-new application. But read on, there’s a lot more here…
It’s a Whole New Twitter Ballgame
Headlining the 2.1 update is support for the iPhone 3GS, particularly the ability to record and post video via services like yFrog or Posterous. (A quick word on this; in my own limited testing, video posted perfectly to my Posterous site – but only the video got there. The accompanying text in the tweet was entirely stripped-out. Weird.)
Other very nice features in 2.1 include:
Tap & Hold a tweet to bring up a context menu with options to copy that tweet’s text or URL, and the tweeter’s name or avatar.
Multiple language tools are built-in, allowing on-the-fly translation of tweets, and in-app email negates having to quit Twitterrific to send mail.
Reference View enables the user to see and interact with their Twitter stream while they are composing a new Tweet. So for example, if I were composing a Tweet and wanted to add the Twitter names of several people in my recent Twitter timeline, I’d use the Reference View to scroll through the stream and tap the desired usernames. With each tap, their “@name” is added to my new tweet.
If you’ve ever had to memorize more than a few “@” names when composing a Tweet, you’ll know just how exciting this new feature is. Suddenly I’m going to enjoy Follow Fridays…
Long-overdue additions and changes include, in no particular order: Instapaper accounts now work with passwords; support has been added for multiple Twitter accounts; Tweeter avatars can be viewed full-screen; Reply and Retweet shortcuts have been added and landscape mode is now available in the built-in browser. Oh yeah, there’s also a very welcome “Load More…” button.
Iconfactory assures us (via their version history page) that battery life has been improved by changing the way Twitterrific updates a user’s location. They don’t go into details, but any change that improves battery life is welcome.
So, after a few hours of play, I adore this thing, but there are two issues I consider drawbacks.
The first is a conspicuous absence of support for Push Notifications. Now, I’ve been using Twitter for years, since the early days when it was a Geek-only space, Scoble was making a lot of noise about all the noise he was making and Calacanis hadn’t quit Twitter even once yet. In short, I’m an old-timer who already rated Twitter very highly indeed.
The emergence of push-enabled Twitter apps (such as the excellent Simplytweet) has promoted Twitter from a useful service into an indispensable part of my computing toolset. (Yes, I am aware how wanky that sounds, I’m sorry.)
You see, Push so perfectly complements Twitter it would be pointless today creating a Twitter app that doesn’t use it. Perhaps the addition of Push functionality is a feature-too-far for this already feature-rich point release. But it badly needs to be added if Iconfactory wants this app to remain a leader amongst Twitter apps.
The second issue I have with Twitterrific is that it’s complicated. Icons, while beautiful, are a mixed-bag of both plainly-intuitive and bewilderingly-random. This means some functionality is obvious and easy to find (such as sending a new tweet) while other functionality (such as finding @mentions or direct messages) is hidden behind a “filter” icon only database administrators would recognize. In addition, Twitterrific’s many settings are buried quietly in the app itself, not in the iPhone’s Settings sheet where they belong.
Perhaps complexity and inconsistency is unavoidable in such a feature-rich application, and it helps that there are some very helpful video Tweetorials to guide beginners. All told, the beauty and power of this app far outweighs its drawbacks.