TweetDeck introduced an updated iPhone app (s aapl) Tuesday that sports a completely new design. The app is so different, in fact, it’s actually a brand new app, and requires a separate download, as the previous TweetDeck iOS apps have been removed from the App Store entirely. The changes are good reason for Twitter power-users, who may have given the app a pass previously, to take a second look.
I’ve used TweetDeck in the past, albeit sporadically, to keep track of the multiple Twitter feeds I’ve had to manage. I’ve since cut down to only two accounts (thanks to Twitter lists) but I still find my Twitter apps of choice (the official client, and lately Tweetbot) don’t handle multiple accounts as well as they could. TweetDeck was good at this, but I always ended up leaving it because it left a bad taste in my mouth in terms of visual and UX design.
The new app looks much better than its predecessor. TweetDeck opted for a much cleaner, simpler interface, and one that does a great job of letting your stream of updates take center stage. It’s a smart design that acknowledges the design restrictions of the iPhone’s relatively small screen and only fits into that space what’s necessary, so that nothing comes out feeling crowded.
My only complaint with regard to interface design is that when you’re zoomed out to manage your columns, the interface feels definitely un-iOS. Some unnecessary and not-so-smooth animations and attempts at portraying 3-D depth here would be better replaced with a more basic tab switching interface lifted from Apple’s mobile Safari browser. It doesn’t really detract from the app’s usability, but it does stick out as one weak element of an otherwise strong design.
TweetDeck’s greatest strength, new and old, is in its ability to handle multiple Twitter (and other social network accounts) in one place, and that gets improved in the new version, too. I love that I can swipe through columns from multiple accounts, ordered in whatever way I choose, but now you can also quickly and easily manipulate individual columns to pull from a wide variety of feeds. You can see tweets from multiple accounts, Facebook updates, and even Foursquare check-ins (though you can’t yet add Foursquare accounts from the mobile client) all in one place, and easily turn off and on various elements using simple slider switches.
The app is missing some things users of the official Twitter app might miss, like support for push notifications of @ replies, but it does have support for fast-app switching, which is again something that will make power-users happy.
TweetDeck says a completely overhauled iPad app will soon follow (the old, buggy version is gone from the App Store), and based on what the iPhone app brings to the table, it can’t come soon enough. TweetDeck for iPhone is still free and ad-free, so it’s definitely worth checking out, especially if other mobile clients don’t offer the flexibility you’re looking for. I’d also argue that this is should probably make TweetDeck an even more attractive option for a possible purchase by Twitter, which can position it as the “Twitter for Business” client.