In my last post, I laid out what I wanted in a Twitter application with Groups and Mobile being high on the list. I wanted to create groups once and to be able to access those groups on my iPhone and desktop. I thought that the easiest way to accomplish this was to create a web app that had a mobile interface.
There was another way to create my desired product and that was to have a fully featured desktop app and a fully featured iPhone app and sync your Groups between the two. Syncing, however, is less than ideal. I have long history of using Desktop and Mobile apps that sync together and generally, syncing was done poorly (data loss or corruption) or at best, slowly.
Enter: Tweetdeck for the iPhone
Tweetdeck for the iPhone and its desktop equivalent have mostly answered my call for the perfect Twitter application.
It doesn’t change that I don’t particularly like Adobe AIR due to its lack of native OS interface conventions, but Tweetdeck answers most of the feature requests that I outlined previously and works well enough. It even includes some of my “nice to haves”
Reading Tweets, both in “All Friends” and “Groups” as well as a view of the most recent update. Much like Tweetie, you can then dig into your friend’s profiles and recent Tweets by clicking on their avatar.
Groups functionality was one of my primary wants in an iPhone app. In many ways, having groups on the go is even more important than at my desktop. Being able to quickly see the folks that matter to you is something that is sorely lacking in Twitter and I look to 3rd parties to make up for this deficiency.
To ease the burden of creating groups in a limited interface, Tweedeck can sync with your desktop client. Syncing from the Tweetdeck server makes adding Groups from the desktop a snap, although you will have to create an account on Tweetdeck’s Web site.
A few issues
The initial view into Tweetdeck shows us a list of “All Friends” in a slightly shrunken view. I like this view as it immediately gave me a clue that swiping to the right would give me a different view.
What I don’t like about this view is that like the desktop app, Tweetdeck on the iPhone tells users things that they don’t really need to know about. In this case, the number of API calls are displayed, which is interesting, but not necessarily that useful. There is any number of better ways to do this (limit API calls to avoid this issue altogether or make limiting API calls a preference). Ask the average Twitter user (let’s say… @Oprah) what an API call is and I’d bet the best you’d get is a blank stare.
That and a few of the other “extra” buttons (left and right arrows, for example) add to the already busy interface. The worst thing about this is that otherwise, Tweetdeck is almost as minimal an interface as Twitter can have and retain all the extra functionality that Tweetdeck offers.
Groups functionality is great to have on the iPhone app, but I had imagined that adding people to groups on the iPhone would be a little tedious. In many ways, Tweetdeck did an admirable job at adding this functionality, but they only pull in your 100 most recently added Friends(I’ve got over 500). Tweetdeck then displays your Friends list alphabetically.
The trouble comes in when you click “load more friends”, Tweetdeck grabs the next 100 people and “fills in the blanks” alphabetically. If I had realized that this is what was happening from the beginning, I’d have clicked “load more friends” 5 times to see the full list, rather than sifting through the list twice to find the folks I wanted to add.
Finally, the app has been a little “crashy,” let’s just say. I’m running the iPhone 3.0 software, so perhaps there is a little blame to spread around.
Tweetdeck for the iPhone – Great 1.0 Product
I’m hesitant to even qualify my opinion of Tweetdeck for the iPhone with a “1.0 product” label, but it’s mostly there. To some degree, the UI issues that I’ve outlined feel a little niggly given how good this app is otherwise. Huge thanks to the folks at Tweetdeck for making such a useful, free (for, I suspect, a limted time) application.
I’ve also posted a Tweetdeck UI gallery on Flickr.