Twittelator Pro 3.0: a new fav Twitter Client!
Okay, I will confess. I am a iPhone Twitter client junky. I have tried just about all of them and generally have 3 or more on my iPhone at once. And why not. Twitter has become a major preoccupation, and the iPhone provides a all but ideal platform for mobile tweets and keeping up.
You may know that until recently the battle for my Twitter space (and the prime location on my iPhone’s app bar) was between Tweetie and TwitterFon Pro. (see Tweetie gets Competition: TwitterFon Pro, Twitterific 2.0). This week, while following the iPhone 3.0 and 3GS fervor on the net, I came across mention of a new version of Twittelator Pro, optimized for OS 3.0 and the new iPhone. I have not tried Twittelator since the early days with my iPod Touch (not quite a year ago), and have never tried the Pro version. A look at the www.stone.com website, and the description of Twittelator 3.0, had me seriously wondering if Twittelator had grown into an app that might replace my current favs…even though the major new feature, Video tweets, is not available on my 3G. It should be noted that Twittelator 3.0 only runs on OS 3.0. You must upgrade before purchasing it.
So I did some more research, and then, whatever, bought a copy. (Told you I was a junky.)
Why? What is wrong with Tweetie or TwitterFon Pro?
Tweetie still lacks any indication of how many new tweets, @, or DMs you have. After using TwitterFon I really really missed that. And you have to open a tweet with links to open the link. Lame. (But again something I did not even notice until after using TwitterFon Pro with its rich text, live link, view.) Tweetie also lacks a conversation view of replies and @s (though it has it for DMs).
And TwitterFon? Twitterfon does not display real names. I can live with screen names, but, hay, these are friends. When possible I would like to think of them, and interact with them, based on real names. Then too, TwitterFon was just a bit slow on the load. And, really, I just did not find TwitterFon (or Tweetie) compelling enough to stick with it for long. I kept switching back and forth, which told me that neither app had my heart. (Not even that small portion of my heart that is devoted to Twitter apps.)
So, Twittelator Pro. Let me say right up front here that it has replaced both Tweetie and TwitterFon on my iPhone. It now lives right there next to Facebook, Phone, and IPod in my app bar. Am I impressed? I guess so!
First, it meets my drop dead requirement of managing multiple accounts. And it displays the number of new tweets, new @s, and new DMs in little bubbles on the icons.
Then too, Twittelator 3.0 is a mature iPhone Twitter client. I can only think of one feature it does not have that I want (Facebook or ping.fm integration, and I can still use Pingle for simultaneous posts) and it has some features which, if no longer unique, are at least very rare, and quite well implemented in Twittelator (groups for instance).
Also the interface shows every sign of being a third generation interface. My memory of Twittelator, based on the 1.x free version I tried in the past, is that it was overly complex, with reminders popping up whenever you touched the screen anywhere and a white on black list view, with tiny type that I fond very hard to read.
Even if memory serves me right, that was then, and the this is now version is far different. I would still highly recommend reading the whole help file on the iPhone (under the Settings icon), or on the http://www.stone.com web site before you get very far in using the app. Not every operation is obvious, and some are pretty obscure until you find out how to do them. However, once you know how the program works, it works, for me, very naturally. I find the various controls easy to remember and easy to use, while giving access to a very large feature set. (My only quibble is that there is, despite what the instructions say, no easy way to switch between accounts. What should be, in my opinion, a one or two tap operation, involves multiple taps and multiple screens to accomplish. An ideal solution might be borrowed from TweetDeck for iPhone, with accounts running in adjacent screens which can be side-slide-flicked into place. The screens do not even have to be populated until flicked to (some load time acceptable). Listening Mr. Stone?)
The tiny white on black type has been replaced by your choice of three very attractive themes, and you can set it to display large type for the end of those kind of days.
As to general controls: Touching the tweeter’s name in the tweet opens a panel with lots of options for replies, direct messages, retweeting, etc. etc. Touching the atvar opens the tweeter’s profile, which also has reply and direct message options as well as the usual follow/unfollow, view tweets, view mentions, view friends, view followers, block, notifications, etc. There is also a search icon which opens a profile search to find other tweeters by name. Better, there is a bookmark feature (unique to Twittelator as far as I know) which adds the tweeter to your bookmarks list for quick and easy access to their tweets. Don’t want to miss a single tweet from one of your friends?Bookmark them and check their feed from time to time.
Twittelator Pro is also one of the new OS 3.0 location aware apps. Below the profile name you will see the GPS coordinates of the location. Clicking the location opens your choice of Google maps.
You can also reply to a tweet by touching the time bubble…most of the time…unless the tweet is part of a conversation (reply, or reply to a reply, or reply to a reply to a reply, etc.), in which case tapping the time bubble opens the conversation as far back as it goes. I really like this feature, as too often I can’t even figure out what tweet of mine someone is replying to.
When there are links in the tweet, urls, @users, #marks, etc., touching the paperclip icon either opens them directly (if there is only one) or gives you a screen to choose which one you want to activate. There is a fast in-line browser with landscape view for urls. When the link is a known picture service (TwitPic, Yfrog, Pikchur, MobyPicture, TwitGoo, TwitLens, TweetPhoto) a thumbnail is displayed instead of the link. Touching the thumbnail opens a unique and very fast image viewer. All images open in portrait mode, cropped to fit the screen, but there is a little control in the header that will fit the image to the width of the screen. Unfortunately you can not (yet, I assume) rotate the phone to see the image in landscape, but there is no denying that the picture viewer is considerably faster than opening the link in the in-line browser (even an open images in landscape view option in settings would be nice). A single tap on the image will bring up the option to save the image or to open it in the browser with the surrounding page from the site in question (should you want, for instance, to leave a comment on the site page rather than replying directly to the tweet). All in all, this is a very intelligent way of viewing images in tweets!
(You can select any of the image services above as your default image service for posting images with tweets. This is perhaps the widest selection I have seen…and makes Twittelator Pro one of the few iPhone clients to support the new TweetPhoto service.)
The list view, by the way, besides displaying the number of new tweets in on the icon, displays it at the top of the list, and, it decreases as you scroll up the list (presumably reading tweets as you go). A tap on header, instead of running you up to the top of the list as it does in most other apps, moves you up a page of tweets. To get to the head of the list you have to double tap the header.
I already mentioned Bookmarks.
That is one way to sort tweets and tweeters. Twittelator offers another in Sub-groups. You can easily build a sub-group of your friends on any principle. I have two so far: APP developers who’s apps I rely on, and Family. Mr Stone recommends keeping groups fairly small as Twittelator uses the search API to generate the list of tweets on the fly. You can set it (in the Settings panel) to generate the list of group tweets using the general API, but, as Mr Stone rightly points out, that might use up your 100 calls an hour pretty fast.
Speaking of Search: Twittelator Pro offers complete access to the full Twitter Search set. On the simple search page you just tap the … in the corner of the search field and the Advanced Search screen opens. Sweet.
The list of features on the More Page is too long to take a screen shot. You have:
Accounts, Search, My Profile, Mine (your own tweets), My Messages (DMs), Subgroups, Trends, Everyone (Twitter’s unsorted feed), Stocks, Recents, Bookmarks, Favorites, Log (where Twitter API calls are recorded), Misc (where, for instance, recent search results are stored), and Saved (which stores sets of tweets, friends, mentions, messages, subgroups, etc as you create them by tapping and holding for two seconds).
Deep breath. If you are getting the idea that Twittelator Pro is a full featured client, then you are getting the right impression. I hope I am also conveying that all of these features are relatively easy to access and use. Mr. Stone has achieved a great balance between feature complexity and ease of use simplicity: not an easy thing to do!
Okay, which brings us to actually writing a posting tweets. As I mentioned you can open the tweet screen for a reply in one of three ways. Or you can open the tweet screen by tapping the pretty universal tweet/keyboard icon in the upper right header. What you get is a fairly conventional keyboard view, either portrait or landscape depending on how you hold the phone. I say fairly conventional because there are some special features. First of all, you can call up an alphabetical, indexed list of your friends by tapping the Friends button and do a reply or DM to any one on your list. Sweet. You can also touch the Pin icon to attach a
Google map of your location. Sweeter. Then, in place of the usual camera icon for attaching an image, there is multi-media icon. Tapping that allows you to post images, post audio tweets using the OS 3.0 voice recording feature, and, if you are using a 3GS and a service like MobyPictures, post video tweets using the 3GS’s video application. That makes Twittelator the first available Twitter client use the full new set of multi-media options the new iPhone hardware provides, though TwitterFon has announced they will implement the video feature in the near future.
There is also your standard url shortener and TwitShrink feature, hidden under the hood so to speak. They operate automatically on tweets over 140 characters (though you can choose one of three url shorteners in Settings), popping you back to edit after shortening to make sure your tweet still says what you intended, or you can preview by tapping the little meeting arrows thingy in the lower left corner of the screen.
Of course, this is a OS 3.0 app, so it makes full use of the Cut, Copy, Paste included in the OS keyboard.
Then too, there is the weird symbol icon which brings up, well, weird symbols you can use in your tweets. Some only work show up on iPhone twitter clients with the international keyboard enabled.
Finally, up there under the New Tweet label in the header, you will see the name of the account you are using. If you tap that, it will bring up your drafts. Oh yes Drafts. When you press Send on a tweet you have the option of saving it as a draft rather than sending it. You can save as many drafts as you want. Where this gets interesting is when you remember that you can now Copy and Paste, so you could, conceivably save a phrase you use very day in your tweets as a draft (For me it might be Pic of the Day), open the draft, copy the phrase, and paste it into a new tweet. Whether that would actually save time is questionable, but then…
On the Drafts page you will also see your account name under the word Drafts, only on this page is says “tap to change”. And it does. Tap it and it calls up your list of accounts and your can switch to any one your want for that tweet. This is still, as I mentioned up front, an awkward and impractical way to switch accounts, imho. The only other way to do it is to go to the More page, and tap the active account to open the same accounts list. Neither is ideal, and both just take too may taps.
Drafts brings up an interesting feature of Twittelator Pro, which is, I think, also unique. When Twittelator can not send a tweet it is stored and sent as soon as a solid connection is possible. This means, practically, that you can compose a tweet anywhere, anytime, even on a plane with airplane mode turned on, and send it, and as soon as Twittelator is opened with a connection if will be sent. In combination with the Save feature, which allows you, for instance, to save a whole list of tweets you do not have time to reply to before the plane lifts off, veiw them in the air even without an internet connection, and reply to what needs reply, Twittelator becomes one very powerful time saving, time redeeming, tweeting tool.
So. Twittelator Pro 3.0 takes pride of place on my iPhone for the moment. Tweetie is due for a new release (says I, not the Tweetie folks), and TwitterFon will not be bypassed I am sure. Seesmic plans an iPhone client soon, which, if as good as the desktop version, stands to be a killer app, with full Facebook and Twitter integration. TweetDeck for iPhone is new, feature rich, and I just don’t like it. Sorry.
Twittelator Pro 3.0 you are my Twitter fav for sure. I can’t promise eternal fidelity, but I can promise not to replace you until something really better comes along (and if you are working on Facebook integration that could well be Twittelator 4.0 Pro).