In February this year, Twitter updated their official client to version 2.0 with a sleek looking UI and a bunch of much requested features. It was the first time Twitter had managed to put out a worthy alternative to the dozens of Twitter clients out there. It didn’t do everything, though, and the Twitter app war on Android only raged on.
Like most others, I’ve been through my fair share of twitter apps on my phone, searching for the one that fits all my requirements. One that does everything I want it to do, without overwhelming me or my fairly underpowered Optimus One. After much trial and error, I decided to stick with Plume, but was still not 100% sure it was the best tool for my morning feed reading ritual.
For me, the expectations from a mobile Twitter client are very very simple. I typically use it as a consumption device, reading feeds in the morning since most people I follow work while I sleep. I need to be able to quickly swipe through my timeline, quickly preview links of interest and add stuff to Read It Later so that I can check it out once I’m on my PC. For some updates and especially questions, I like to see how people are responding.
I don’t really care for fancy composing features or for things like scheduling tweets for later. That stuff’s mostly for when I post on Twitter, which happens from SilverBird, my desktop Twitter client of choice. I also don’t find much utility in fancy color schemes and support for multiple other services. Android’s built-in sharing function lets me connect with pretty much any service I want to.
Now I need to make it clear here, that my take on the new Twitter for Android may be a bit biased. You see, Twitter got the timing for releasing the new version just about perfect for me. I had recently updated Plume, my last app of choice, but it had begun throwing login errors on me presumably because of their move to the Twitter Streaming API. I was back in the market for a replacement when the news hit my – as luck would have it – Twitter timeline.
I liked what I saw in their ‘fly‘ video and decided to give the Android app another try. Five minutes in, I was smitten.
Just in Time, Just Enough
So what does the new Twitter do right, you ask? Most of what I need. For starters, I find the new four-tab categorization of content very logical. The timeline view is clean – i.e. without frills and gimmicks. Tapping a tweet takes me to a new screen with everything I need to know about it: actual URLs (at least in cases where Twitter shortened them), images, and (most importantly) all replies to that tweet. It is surprising how few Twitter clients have realized the importance of conversations in Twitter and choose to skip this elementary ability.
Sure, it’s not perfect by any means. The UI leaves a lot to be desired and is arguably a minor step back from the visual richness of the previous version. The blue bar at the top does precious little other than wasting space and the landscape mode is an exercise in scrolling endlessly to find what you need – especially on lower resolution devices. One would also highly appreciate an easy way to view timelines for Twitter lists. But in my particular case, these are minor niggles that don’t keep me from doing what I need.
More Twitter Clients? Bring ‘Em On!
The first real conversation I had about the new Twitter for Android was with Rita El Khoury, and as it turns out, she’s not much of a fan. This is most probably because her use case – as far as Twitter is concerned – is very different to mine. Another Twitter client is probably going to work much better for her, whereas this app is probably something I’m going to stick with.
Coming to think of it, this is probably an ode to the way Twitter has grown over the years and the million ways people decide to use it every day. The developers are probably right in ensuring they retain the simplicity of the app and not letting bloat creep in. Well, I’m happy. For now. Tomorrow’s too far, isn’t it?