SimplyTweet 2.5: Whoo! Isn’t this a whole new app?!
Okay. Come on now. SimplyTweet 2.5 is a whole new app, right? This has to be more than a free version update. It takes the amazingly rich SimTw feature set and the refined interface and adds some significantly awesome new features (like full TextExtender integration!) while providing a major UI overhaul that makes for what amounts to a whole new (and improved) user experience. This has to be SimplyTweet Plus, or SimTweet Ultra, or something. Right?
I mean, didn’t someone just justify (and rightly so in my opinion) adding a 2 to his app’s name and charging as though it were new based on similar changes? (And that was without push!)
SimplyTweet 2.5 is not just an improvement on what I consider the best Twitter app for the iPhone and iPod Touch…it is that, of course…but as I see it, version 2.5 qualifies as a whole new app. What we have in SimplyTweet 2.5 goes beyond the accumulation of all the little (and bigger) enhansenents and refinements in the 5 versions since push was introduced with 2.0. In fact, a user who has not looked at SimplyTweet since 2.0 would be completely justified in thinking they had discovered a new Twitter client…one with all the advanced features, push, saved views, multiple accounts, etc. etc. that were there in SimplyTweet 2.0, but one that presented such a different (read better!) user experience that it could not, certainly, be the same app.
As I have noted before here, SimplyTweet is a Twitter client for the iPhone and iPod Touch which is in rapid development. What is rapid?…how about a new version every two to three weeks…or just about as fast as the App Store approval process allows. The developer is continuously adding features and tweaking the UI based on customer feedback and expressed needs. It is actually kind of fun to watch. You can follow his Twitter timeline (@simplytweet) and get some real insight into how a responsive programmer develops an app for the iPhone. Every version adds significantly useful features and refines the user experience.
The primary reason for the new user experience in 2.5 is the full and smooth implimentation of landscape mode. SimplyTweet missed beating Tweetie 2 to full landscape by a week or so, but even if it had not, it still would not have been the first iPhone Twitter client with landscape views of your timeline, @s, and DMs. That honor goes, of course, to Landscape Tweets. However SimTweets implimentation is just about seamless.
And it is a surprisingly useful feature. I have always used landscape compose where availabe, but until version 2.4 landscape compose in SimTweet was (as it still is in many apps) a compromise. When tipped to landscape some of the features of the compose view disappeared. (This seems to be inherent in Apple’s implimentation of the landscape keyboard and any programer who wants different has to figure out his or her own way around the limitation.) That problem was solved in SimTweet 2.4. With full integration of landscape in all views, though, I find myself using SimTweet in landscape most of the time. Somehow it is just more comfortable…maybe easier on the eyes…maybe not as cramped and confined. I like it!
The second change that makes the app feel different is, in reality, not much more than a name change. SimTweet’s Saved Views has always been a powerful feature. With 2.5 Saved Views are now renamed Saved Lists to better reflect their true nature and the coming Twitter native lists. Oh, and the Edit Lists menu item is moved from the main More menu to the Misc menu under More.
The name change only emphasizes how good the implementation is in SimTweet. You can create new lists in the Edit List view and then choose contacts from your friends and followers list, one at at time, but the easiest way to add friends and followers to any existing list is to open their profiles and choose Add to List from the Actions Menu (envelope with swoosh) at the bottom right of the view. This brings up the standard picker roll with the names of all your existing lists. Folks who are already on a list have a little list icon next to their atvars on their profile views. A list can consist of a single twit who you want to follow closely among all those you follow, or it can be a group of twits related in some way in you mind. I have a list, for instance, of Twitter app developers, and another list that just has SimTweet’s developer on it. And, of course, I have a Family list, and list of my collegues, etc., etc.
Until Twitter fully implements its own List schema and the API to go with it, SimTweet uses Twitter search to populate your lists with the tweets attached to those twits. This has the advantage of calling up tweets you would not have wanted to miss, even if they are buried well back your own timeline.
You can also use a Saved List to hide a group of those you follow from your main timeline. This is a kind of filtering function for those with massive follow lists. Hiding a list can be turned on and off in the Edit Lists view.
Another nice feature of 2.5 is that Drafts are now saved as Notes, so you can access them and work with them at any time. SimTweet has saved the current draft when you cancel at tweet in the compose screen (and choose Save Draft instead of Discard) for several versions. The draft just sort of magically appeared the next time you opened the compose screen…and you could only have one draft saved at a time.
SimplyTweet has also had Notes for many versions. Until 2.5, a Note was attached to a profile. 2.5 integrates the two functions. You can still attach notes to profiles, but now, when you cancel a tweet, if you choose to save it, it will appear in your Notes list. Notes can be opened, edited, posted as tweet, posted as DM, or emailed. Saved drafts. Multiple saved drafts. Multiple applications for Saved Drafts (er…Notes). There you go. What more could you ask?
Then there is full integration of TextExpander. TextExpander is a app for the Mac that automatically expands snippets of text into full words or phrases. It runs in the background on the Mac and works wherever you are processing words. On the iPhone TextExpander can’t run in the background (not allowed by the OS). Therefore you have your choice of typing up your message in the TextExpander compose box and sending it to one of the twitter clients they support (which you set in TextExpander’s settings) or, if your app is TextExpander aware, you can use the snippets right in the compose view of the app. SimplyTweet offers both options. TextExpander is a separate purchase in the app store, but I am finding that it saves me significant time. If you tweet a lot, and use the same phrase frequently, then you can type the whole phrase in a couple of keystrokes as a snippet and it will magically (and musically, I might add) expand right in the SimplyTweet compose view. You have to create your snippets in TextExpander, and set TextExpander to be friendly with other apps, but once you have a set of snippets, text entry in SimplyTweet can go a lot faster. I like it.
Another small touch that I have come to appreciate more and more is the way SimTweet handles multiple accounts. This is not new in 2.5. It was developed and refined over the first few updates after 2.0. There is an Accounts View, which allows you, of course, to view, select, and add accounts. But switching accounts is much easier than opening the Accounts view. On every list view, at the top, under the title, is the @account name. Touch it, and you get the OS picker roller with all your accounts listed. Choose.
And, say you open open a tweet from one account, and want to repost it as though it came from one of your other accounts? No problem. Touch the @account title in the header of the compose view and choose another account. Or you are posting a tweet and realize it really should come from another account. Same thing. Easy.
And, of course, SimTweet 2.5, as it has since 2.0, pushes @s and DMs from all your accounts. It automatically loads new @s and DMs if you have them when you open SimTweet. And it alerts you to incoming @s and DMs while the app is running too. Push works. Push works really well in SimplyTweet.
Then there are little SimplyTweet only touches: the # symbol on the compose screen that allows you to insert the # character without opening the extended keyboard, the way recent tweets are displayed in account views, the Between Us button on account views that calls up recent public exchanges with that follow/follower, the easy conversation views accessible from any tweet (and from the swipe pop-up icon bar), the ability to reply to multiple tweets (and twits) by selecting them in your time-line list view (great for building #followfriday tweets, among other things), the ability to customize the contents of the swipe icon bar, and to choose one of several themes for the whole app, etc, etc.
SimplyTweet is a great twitter client. It is the one that is always on my iPhone and that I use every day. It simply does more of what I need a client to do, and does it remarkably well. In my opinion SimplyTweet is the best twitter client on the iPhone by a good margin. Version 2.5 only reinforces that opinion, by, once more, significantly improving the user experience. The developer, we are told, has even bigger things in mind for 2.6. If you are not using SimplyTweet I have one question for you. Why not? Get on board. It is a great twitter client and it is only going to get better.