A few days ago, Twitter unwrapped a highly revamped version of its clients, including the website, the iOS app, and the Android app. A lot of users have been positively impressed by this change, including our very own Ashish Bogawat, but I, unfortunately, have been highly disappointed.
While I appreciate the Discover features, support for Twitter images for upload and preview, and the ego-boosting option of seeing who followed, retweeted or favorited me, there are many backward steps that are stopping me from fully enjoying the new experience.
Before I go on explaining the different aspects that have annoyed me, I would like to say that ever since v2.0 of Twitter for Android, I have been a religious user of the application. I tried everything else – Tweetdeck, Seesmic, HootSuite, Plume, TweetCaster, Twicca, Ubersocial, Tweetsride – several times, and I kept coming back to Twitter for Android. And it’s not because I am a casual Twitter user: quite the contrary. To this day, I have over 27,000 tweets, follow 420 people closely, and am followed by over 3,000 users.
Twitter for Android, in its second version, ticked all the boxes for an efficient Twitter client for me: fast on a mobile connection, push notifications, drafts support, super clean interface, simple search, integrated reply and reply all, contextual view when replying to a tweet… It was as close to perfect as I wanted it to be. But the new 3.0 version? No-oh.
A Tragic Loss of Screen Estate
You know, on smartphones, no matter whether the screen is 3″ or 4.7″, the screen estate is quite limited and you’d want to make full use of every pixel. Old Twitter understood that and didn’t waste anything, whereas new Twitter thinks it’s fancy to have borders, a huge blue bar with only one button, a search bar that you can’t actually type on but that really only works as a shortcut, and a lower bar for Interactions and Mentions in the Connect tab that reduces screen estate even more.
Borders make long tweets take more space on new Twitter (left) vs old Twitter (right)
All is almost acceptable until you flip the view to landscape and see all the tragic design errors made by the new Twitter take a new dimension.
Landscape view of Mentions in new Twitter: only one and a half are visible
Landscape view of Mentions in old Twitter: more than three are visible
Solution: Lose the borders, remove the search bar and replace it with a search button in the blue bar, and optimize the landscape view.
No More Contextual View When Replying to a Tweet
The old Twitter version had one nifty feature that very, very, very, few other clients had: when you clicked to reply on a tweet, you could see the original tweet above the compose window, so you had a visual reminder of what you were replying to (other users, different points mentioned…). In the new version, you get a blank screen.
Old Twitter shows the tweet your are replying to when typing (right), new Twitter doesn't (left)
Solution: Bring back the contextual view.
No More Flick on a Tweet for Options
In the previous version, when you flicked on a tweet, you had it replaced by options to quickly reply, retweet, favorite, share and view the user’s profile. This is no longer present in the new version and you have to click and go to the full tweet page view to get to these. The sad part? Now flicking left and right doesn’t do anything, not even move tabs horizontally, which other Twitter clients do.
Flicking on a tweet for more options in old Twitter. Now gone.
Solution: Either bring back flicking, or make a horizontal scroll switch tabs; you have to make use of that gesture.
Drafts and Direct Messages Are in the Me Tab
The new Discover tab, while quite useful in theory, replaces Direct Messages which are now only accessible under the Me tab. So going to DMs now requires an additional click, and getting out of them requires an extra click as well. If you use them as frequently as I do, you’ll be annoyed in no time.
The other change is with Drafts, which used to appear as a button below the text box in the Compose window. That made a heck of a lot more sense than burying them in the Me tab now.
The easily accessible Drafts button when composing a new tweet in old Twitter
Solution: Make a fifth tab for Direct Messages, and bring back the Drafts button in the compose window.
Making Full Names More Prominent Than Usernames
I don’t know about you, but I recognize most of my Twitter friends by their usernames, not full name. New Twitter emphasizes the full name with the username next to it in a tiny almost transparent font. I am pretty sure that I could potentially get used to this, and it will be a nice lesson for me to learn the real names of people I interact with, but so far, I have to spend a few seconds wondering who is everyone on my timeline.
Solution: Give us the option to choose whether we want to see the username or the full name more prominently.
Me Tab and My Profile Redundancy
The new Twitter version includes terrible decisions, like the fact that there is a Me tab, and a My Profile option in the Menu. Both let you see your tweets, followers, friends, lists. The difference? Me gives you access to DMs, Drafts, Saved Searches, as well as Switch Account and Settings (which are both under the Menu as well). My profile lets you edit your profile, view your favorite tweets, blocked users, and similar users to you.
I understand that Me is supposed to give you access to more personal options on Twitter, while My Profile is how others view your page, but there are discrepancies: profile editing and favorites are only reachable from My Profile, whereas logically they should be under Me.
Redundant options in the Me tab and My Profile page in new Twitter
Solution: Really? Just mash these two views together.
Interactions and Mentions Redundancy in the Connect Tab
File this one under the “do I have to see it twice?” category. The new Connect tab contains your Mentions and all is well until you see your Interactions which contain new followers, retweets of you, adds to lists, favorites of your tweets, but also, yes, the mentions. I thought mobile was supposed to help you get to things quicker. Now, in order for me to see if someone retweeted me, I have to scroll through a long list of mentions: a mega time-waster.
Trying to find an interaction in a sea of mentions (left) and redundant mentions tab (right)
Solution: First, move the Mentions tab to the left, and the Interactions to the right. Second, remove all mentions from the Interactions tab, keep only retweets, favorites, lists and new followers. Or simply remove the Mentions tab and make Interactions the only Connect tab view.
I’m Back to Twitter v2.1.2
When it comes down to it, there are lots of features in the new Twitter that I could live with if I tried to adapt, like the redundancies, the more prominent full names, and the shuffling of Drafts and Direct Messages. But the two things I can’t get used to are the total waste of screen estate and the lack of contextual view when replying to a tweet. Until these are fixed, I can’t use the new version, no matter what awesome features it brings.
Luckily for me, I have Titanium Backup installed, and when I saw the Twitter update in the Market, I thought that I might not like it, so I made a backup. I’ve now restored to v2.1.2 and am back to normalcy. Thank you Titanium Backup and Android for giving me this option, unlike other operating systems.