Cloudy Days and Connected Nights

With tablet and iPhone in hand and head in the clouds

Twittelator Pro 3.6

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It seems to be a day for downloading upgrades and seeing how Twitter clients are progressing. Twittelator Pro 3.0 was the first Twitter client to take advantage of the features of OS 3.0 and the iPhone 3GS when they were introduced last year. It was ready on launch to upload audio and video. I bought it at that point, and it was an eye-opening experience. I thought Tweetie was everything a Twitter client could be…Twittelator soon showed me a whole new range of possibilities…bookmarks, lists, saved tweets and sets of tweets, in-line image thumbs in list view, intelligent tweet counts in all views, etc, etc.: Twittelator Pro was so feature rich that it made using any lesser client seem like a huge step backward. Goodbye Tweetie. (see my first Twittelator Pro review.)

Only the advent of SimplyTweet, which had a similar feature set, a simpler UI (at least in my eyes), and PUSH! took me away from Twittelator.

Still I download every Twittelator Pro upgrade just to see how it is developing. Today version 3.6 appeared in the App Store, with one feature that I just had to try right away: TextExpander support. I have become addicted to TE in SimplyTweet, and I am of the opinion that every text based iPhone app should feature integration. It is hard to imagine how useful it is until the the 6th time you begin a tweet with “Just in case you missed it:”. Setting a TE snippet to “jicumi” allows you to type just that: “jicumi” and have it magically expanded into the whole phrase, including the “:”. I use it all the time.

With the exception of Push, Twittelator Pro has done an excellent job of keeping up with new features of the OS and Twitter. This version does both traditional Retweets (with the possibility of comments) and the new Twitter native Retweet. And Twitter native lists have replaced the custom lists in previous versions of Twittelator. The advantage of using the Twitter native lists is, of course, portability. Any app that uses Twitter native lists, including the Twitter web interface itself, can use the same lists you create on Twitter, or in another client that integrates the list features. When you switch clients, for whatever reason, you do not lose your lists. Of course there is a price. Twitter lists only collect direct tweets from users. They do not collect replies. Most custom lists in the clients that implemented them collected both. You can’t have everything.

Twittelator Pro does continue to provide an interesting an unique feature called Bookmarks. This allows you to add a user to a list you can later access from the More menu to call up all that user’s tweets with a single touch.

Another of the can haves of Twittelator is  geotagging. It supports native Twitter geo tags and does an excellent job with a built-in map view for Nearby search, which is fully integrated with an intelligent list view as well. It is one of the best Nearby search implementations I have yet seen.

Version 3.6 also includes what the creator is calling an in-line browser. Of course every Twitter client that I know of uses the OS browser calls and interface to provide a way to view links within the app. Twittelator just provides a view where you can enter your own url or go to the Google page.

When you add all these new features, and more that I have not mentioned, introduced since version 3.0, Twittelator remains one of the richest Twitter experiences on any platform.

But no push. Twittelator relies on Boxcar. I downloaded Boxcar again today and set it up for Twittelator. Nah! Not the same as the native Push integration offered by Twitbit, Echofon, TwitBird, and SimplyTweet. Not at all! Sorry. No.

Then too, Twittelator has a UI that, honestly, takes some getting used to. Considering the popularity of the app, lots of people must get used to it…but it is very different from the majority of Twitter clients…and very different, in fact, from the emerging standard interface conventions among all iPhone apps. You won’t see any swipes or tap for pop-up action menus here.

For instance, here is a screen shot of the list view, with little arrows and explanations of the controls.

TwLControls

Nothing wrong with that. Everything you might want to do is there…even if it is not obvious to the new user.

But it is different. In every other Twitter client I have tested on the iPhone, tapping the tweet in the list view opens the tweet in tweet view. Tapping the tweet does nothing in Twittelator. You have to tap the user name to open tweet view. In other apps tapping the avatar initiates a reply. In Twittelator it opens the profile of the user, and gives you your only access to @users within the tweet. It also allows you to do a Reply All. To initiate a normal reply (without opening the tweet view), you have to tap the time stamp…unless the tweet is itself a reply, in which case the time stamp will be in a speech bubble, and tapping it will open conversation view for the reply (leaving you without any way to directly initiate a reply of your own until you get to the conversation view).

If there are links, or #hastags in the tweet you have to  tap the attachment icon to access them. That produces a menu of the possible links for you to choose from. That is the only way to open links or #hashtags, since once you figure out how to open the tweet view, unlike every other Twitter client on the iPhone, the links are just text…most Twitter clients require you to open tweet view before the links go live. In Twittelator you can not open a link from tweet view. Links are never live. Different. Of course, the image thumbnail right in the list view is a nice touch. Contrary to all expectation, it is live: Tapping the thumbnail opens the image viewer directly.

Here, in the screen shots, you see the pop-up menu that tapping the attachment icon opens for choosing which of the possible links you you want to activate, and the tweet view with no active links at all. As you can see, a wide range of options for action on the tweet are provided. Retweet can be set to auto choose conventional (RT or Via with comment) or Twitter native retweet, to do one or the other, or to always give you a choice. The one that is missing here is quote or repost tweet, and, unlike some other clients that have a one tap copy the whole tweet, you have to use the OS selection handles and pop-up to copy the tweet for inclusion in a new tweet.

I am not making a better/worse argument here: just pointing out that Twittelator’s UI is different, and non-standard in many ways. Cryptic. It does everything you need it to do, but it takes some time to find out how to do any given thing…and some effort to remember. (There is a fairly trough instruction manual on-line and accessible from within the app). It is easy for those already in the know. Not so much for new users. You may love it and think that all Twitter clients should work this way.

I could get used to it. And the rich feature set of Twittelator makes it worthwhile. As you would expect, the longer I live with the app, the more normal it seems. But honestly, there are a growing number of clients which have all the power features of Twittelator Pro, plus a less cryptic UI , and even fully integrated push.

Still for all that, Twittelator Pro may be just your cup of Twitter Tea. It still offers features no other client offers, and has just about every feature anyone else provides. If only it did native push. I am using it as my default client, at least until SimplyTweet implements the latest Twitter native features (lists and retweet).

For more info on Twittelator go to the Stone Design web site. Or to the App Store: Twittelator Pro.

 

 

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Written by singraham

January 9, 2010 at 7:52 pm

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