The sequel to Tweetie, the Twitter client that earned itself the much-coveted Apple Design Award earlier this year, is on its way to the App Store as you read this.
For the past few weeks I’ve been part of Loren Brichter‘s Tweetie 2 beta program, testing out new features as the former Apple (s aapl) engineer constructed his new Twitter client.
Brichter has rebuilt Tweetie from the ground-up. The sequel incorporates features such as app persistence, offline mode, drafts, threaded conversations, landscape support and much more.
Read on for an in-depth look at what to expect from Tweetie 2.
Look & Feel
While Tweetie 2 incorporates an updated aesthetic, it won’t be difficult for both new and veteran users to get to grips with the app. More so impressive is how the app incorporates a raft of new features without overwhelming the user.
Even after playing with Tweetie 2 for a few weeks, I’m still discovering new functionality. For instance, when replying to a tweet you can now drag down with your finger to “peek” at the original message.
It’s a small feature indeed but finding these kind of miniscule updates brings to mind that satisfied glow we all get when discovering new features in OS X. In essence, skimming through tweets, tapping out messages and finding new folk to follow looks and feels great with Tweetie 2.
Writing & Replying
Composing richer tweets is easier now. Tweetie 2 lays out the different options clearly so that you can quickly add content to your latest 140 character micro-opus. In a given tweet you’re able to access your Twitter address-book and @ messages, search current hashtags, geotag your tweet and add photos too.
Plus, just like with Tweetie on OS X, you can now shrink URLs with the tap of a button. Obsessively attentive readers may have noticed me video tweeting from Big Bird over the past few weeks, that’s because Tweetie 2 also incorporates video tweeting from the 3GS.
There’s also a wealth of options available beyond simply retweeting a message from someone that you’re following. Now you can quote the tweet, post a direct link, translate and even e-mail the tweet to a friend — all without leaving the app itself.
For prolific Twitter users there’s now a drafts manager. This means that you can write and save a stack of tweets for posting later on. I’ve found that it’s particularly handy to have several drafted tweets ready to go just incase you get hit by a case of tweeter’s block.
Browsing the Timeline
The app now features full persistence. This means that if you’re, say, tapping through a prolonged conversation and then you quit the app, you’re able to pick up exactly where you left off. Every single time you exit, the app remembers your place and drops you right back there.
Offline reading has been incorporated too. You’re now able to compose those witty little one-liners while offline, save them to your drafts, and unleash them on the Twittersphere next time you’re online. Even users or tweets you follow, block or favorite while offline will be synced back to the server.
Exactly like the desktop version of Tweetie, there are now threaded conversations, making it much easier to jump into an ongoing discussion and catch up with what you missed. Also, although I don’t use any read this later services, some users will be pleased to note that there’s Read It Later and Instapaper support too.
One of the most ingenious little additions to the timeline view is the “drag to refresh” gesture. Instead of tapping a refresh button, you simply scroll to the top of the timeline and then drag down. It works as intended and, thanks to the gesture combined with a sound-effect and flippy-floppy arrow, it feels tangible and satisfying.
Landscapes & Locations
Not only can you compose a tweet in landscape view, the entire app can be browsed in landscape view. I appreciate that some users may have been waiting for this, however it’s not a feature that I particularly wanted, nor do I make use of now that it’s here. If I could find the button to turn off auto-rotate, I would do so.
Setting that little niggle aside, the Nearby tweets feature has received a much-needed overhaul too. The original Tweetie displayed an odd looking radar animation before loading a basic, but functional, timeline of tweets nearby your current location.
The new Tweetie loads up a Google Map and then pops up tiny speech bubble icons representing all the tweets in your vicinity. It’s an effective way of sorting through local tweets and is a more creative approach than the standard timeline view.
And There’s Even More…
There are details and small features that you almost certainly won’t come across within the first few days of using the app. For instance, Brichter has now included profile editing from within the app.
Another feature that I just picked up on today is the ability to tweet simultaneously from multiple accounts. When composing a tweet you simply tap the “New Tweet” header at the top of the screen and then select the other accounts that you’d like to post the message from.
The Bottom Line
The app is a standalone purchase, as opposed to an update/upgrade. It’ll be available in the App Store soon for only $2.99, just like the original iPhone Tweetie. There’s also an update to the Mac version on the way, however this will be a free update to current owners of Tweetie for OS X.
If you’re unfamiliar with the current state of Twitter clients, we’ve got a great roundup here on TheAppleBlog. It’s worth noting that the original Tweetie came out on top as one of the top clients.
The new app definitely gets a thumbs-up from me, although I’d be interested to know which of you will be upgrading to Tweetie 2 when it comes out.