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Archive for the ‘SimplyTweet’ Category

SimplyTweet 3.1: Back at the Top of the Twitter heap!

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Note: as of 5/8 this version is pending review in the App Store. It should be available next week.

Of course, with Tweetie now the property of Twitter, and its first release as the one and only official twitter app for the iPhone impending (simply Twitter for iPhone), there is somewhat of a scramble among twitter client developers to get their apps well positioned to survive the advent. And that is not going to be easy. Tweetie already has one of the richest feature sets of any client, one of the most elegant interfaces, and one of the strongest followings. One wonders what Twitter is going to do to it…but unless they somehow make it worse instead of better, Tweetie as a free Twitter for iPhone is going to be tough competition for any other app.

Still there are two features that Tweetie lacks that have always kept it off my home screen. 1) native push notifications and 2) unread counts and unread marks. I know you can use Boxcar for push, but as I have said before, there is no comparison between well implemented native push and a side-car push experience. They are two different things altogether. Native push is clearly the way to go. (We will have to see what wrinkles multitasking brings to this mix with OS 4.0.) And, personally, I value unread counts and marks. They help to make sense out of my stream, and any help there is appreciated! ūüôā

I have used just about all of the feature rich twitter clients, and the one that keeps working its way back on to my home screen is SimplyTweet. It has a simple, elegant UI, all the standard features, and a few still fairly unique features that I use every day. For a while before 3.0 came out, SimplyTweet fell behind the curve in implementing twitter-native retweet and twitter lists. The native retweet thing was critical, since they did not appear in the ST timelines at all. That was awkward. And, while ST had its own list function, it was not integrated in any way with Twitter’s own new lists.

That lead me to an app called Osfoora (see reviews here and here). Osfoora has most of ST’s features (except for push) and is blazingly fast. Excellent app and another app which is rapidly developing. Still I was really waiting for the new release of ST.

SimplyTweet 3.0 was a long time coming because it was a complete rewrite…all but a complete recreation…in essence a whole new app. The UI changes went well beyond 2.5, which was itself a significant upgrade (see review). 3.0 added all the new twitter native stuff, and the engine under the hood was completely reworked.

Unfortunately, because of that, 3.0 was essentially a 1.0 version with a few really awkward UI corners and obvious patches still showing. Though I bought it the day it appeared in the app store, it never did make it to my home screen. (Since it was completely new app from the inside out it was not a free upgrade‚Ķthough, under protest, the author did lower the price for a time to appease his faithful following. My attitude on this is somewhat different‚Ķas it was with Tweetie 2.0. iPhone apps are inexpensive. iPhone app developers, if we expect them to continue developing, have to make some $$ for their efforts. Having to repurchase ST, considering all the work that has gone into it, over past upgrades and in this new version, is only fair. ūüôā Or that‚Äôs what I think.)

I have mentioned before that ST’s author, Hwee-Boon Yar, is among the most accessible and responsive of developers. If you check his twitter profile you will see that he has over 10,000 updates…most dealing with his user’s suggestions and concerns. That is impressive.

And SimplyTweet 3.1 shows that he is still listening. He took the suggestions of his users after 3.0 and added the final layer of polish to the UI, finished a few features that were hanging, and managed to speed up the app significantly in 3.1. SimplyTweet is back on my home screen!

Features it retains that I value:

  1. multiple accounts with easy account switching (even while composing a tweet).
  2. native push, with all notification options
  3. load all since last unread (it will load over 1000 tweets first thing in the morning), with tweet counts on the control bar at the bottom, and unread marks in the list
  4. unread marks which disappear as you scroll up the list (tweet count decrements as well)
  5. full TextExpander integration.
  6. repost this tweet function
  7. ability to post multiple images with a single tweet
  8. swipe control for instant access to common functions (and, in the Settings app, you can set which function icons appear when you swipe)
  9. reply to multiple tweets by selecting them a list view (elegant solution for #ff)
  10. reply to author and all mentions function in tweet view
  11. # symbol on the compose screen for quick access, plus your saved hashtag list
  12. easy access to the chain of tweets for @replys, both forward and backward
  13. image search (Twitpics, yFrog, TwitGoo and img.ly)
  14. excellent Profile view which auto loads user’s recent tweets and still has access to the user’s lists, favorites, @replies, tweets between you and the user, followers, followed, etc. etc….and all while still managing not to look too complex.
  15. general look and logic of the UI (it just works the way I need it too)
  16. full screen rotation, in any view
  17. ability to edit the control bar at the bottom and the More screen

New features of 3.0/3.1

  1. native retweets with dual avatar display in timelines
  2. native lists (now in 3.1 with easy access in the control bar if you want to put it there)
  3. hidden control panel in the compose screen for additional functions (url shortner, #s, location, pic upload, etc.)
  4. pull down Compose box to view tweet being replied to (surprisingly handy)
  5. image indicator in list view for tweets with images attached (as a fotog this one is particularly important to me)
  6. thumbnail image preview in tweet view (ditto)
  7. redesigned, single screen, Search interface (takes getting used to but actually works very well)
  8. both search for user and go to user in Search. (may have been in previous versions but I never appreciated it until the redesigned UI)
  9. Tweet translation
  10. Tweet now playing on iPod
  11. cached tweets, so you can read tweets while off-line
  12. general speed enhancements, especially on opening app

What does Simplytweet still lack? (both of these continue to surprise me! but neither is a deal-breaker since they are features I don’t use much)

  1. conversation view of DMs!!! ūüė¶
  2. nearby tweet mapping (it does a list, but there is no indication in the list of the location of the tweeter and no map view ūüė¶ )

I have said it before, and now, with 3.1, I can say it again. SimplyTweet is, in my studied opinion, the best of the currently available Twitter clients for iPhone. Twitter is going to have do something spectacular with Tweetie to even equal it…let alone to better it.

Of course, the real test of twitter apps is yet to come. OS 4.0 is going to be a whole new game, with new potentials and opportunities. Which twitter app will best realize all that 4.0 goodness…that is the real question now!

Lots more screen shots of features mentioned in the text below.

Search screen features: also note the elegant Profile view layout.

Stuff you can do with a tweet:

 

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Written by singraham

May 8, 2010 at 6:14 am

SimplyTweet 2.5: Whoo! Isn’t this a whole new app?!

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SimplyTweet's Full Landscape views

SimplyTweet's Full Landscape views

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!)

Mentions view in Landscape

Mentions view in Landscape

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.

Saved Lists in SimplyTweet

Saved Lists in SimplyTweet

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.

ST25-10

Landscape compose, and a saved draft/note.

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!

Hidden behind the Action icon in Compose View

Hidden behind the Action icon in Compose View

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?

If I type "i" now, it is one of my TextExpander snippets, and will auto expend to "Case U missed it:"

If I type "i" now, it is one of my TextExpander snippets, and will auto expend to "Case U missed it:"

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.

Account Picker: available by tapping @account where it appears in List and Compose Views

Account Picker: available by tapping @account where it appears in List and Compose Views

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.

Written by singraham

October 24, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Tweetie’s Second Coming: Tweetie 2, does it measure up?

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Tweetie 2

Tweetie was, by far, the most popular twitter app on the iPhone and iPod Touch. I suspect it had, and has, more users than all the other twitter apps combined.

If it had a failing, it was that it was not often upgraded. The author, one could argue, got side-tracked with his version for Mac, and left Tweetie on the iPhone pretty much as it was while other, less well known, clients incorporated a host of new features, especially with the advent of OS 3.0. The fact that so many people stuck with Tweetie through it all is testimony to how well Tweetie did its basic job of connecting people to twitter, and doing the things they needed to do with twitter on a day to day basis.

Of course, that made the announcement of Tweetie 2 just that much more delicious to the faithful, and¬†tantalizing¬†to other clients’ users (as well as¬†worrisome to other clients’ developers). Tweetie 2 was greeted with the¬†furor appropriate for, well, a second coming.¬†¬†It has now arrived, and been thoroughly gushed over all over the net. It is getting generally, absolutely glowing reviews.

full landscape view: surprisingly nice!

full landscape view: surprisingly nice!

Tweetie was, for quite a while, my own twitter client of choice, but I will admit that I was seduced away, first by the richer (if idiosyncraticly implemented) feature set of Twittelator 3.0 (the first client to really make use of the OS 3.0 potentials), and then by the Twittelator-rich feature set, and, shall we say, Tweetie-like simplicity and speed, of SimplyTweet. And I will admit, right up front, that Tweetie 2 will not become my twitter client of choice (not yet at least). There is only room for one twitter app at a time in the main launch bar on my iPhone screen, next to the FaceBook app.  Some of the features that I have come to rely on every day are still only available, or simply better implemented, in SimplyTweet. In what follows you will see that I am unable to avoid comparisons between Tweetie 2 and both Twittelator 3.0 and SimplyTweet 2.5.

excellent tweet view

excellent tweet view

Of course, the second coming of Tweetie ¬†has been complicated by the developer’s decision to break with the free upgrade model that iPhone and App Store users have come to expect. He argues that making all current Tweetie users fork out another $2.99 for v2 is justified because so much of the code is new, but, honestly, it is still Tweetie, and honestly, he does not need to justify the upcharge at all. I am sure, from the changes evident in the new version, that he spent a lot of hours (days, weeks, months) on coding. He deserves to be paid a reasonable wage, and the only way of insuring his income is to charge current users (of which, as noted, there are many) for the new version. It is not like this is a $20 app. And for their original $2.99 most users got close to a year out of Tweetie. The developer did warn potential Tweetie ¬†buyers in good time, right in the app store description, that a new version was iminent, and that it would not be a free upgrade.

It is just that we are all spoiled: we expect unlimited upgrades on $3 apps. What planet are we from? ¬†If developers are going to continue to develop their apps for the iPhone, if, in fact, the app store is to survive in the long run, we have to expect that there will be, that there have to be, charges for new versions. The sooner we get over it, the better for us all…and the better for the health of a platform we, if we admit it to ourselves, have become dependent on. I want to see the iPhone and the app store live and flourish. To do that, developers have to make a living. Simple.

Climbing down off my soap-box now, lets take a look at how Tweetie 2 measures up against the competition.

landscape compose: see that character count toggle?

landscape compose: see that character count toggle?

Opens the compose option panel

Opens the compose option panel

Landscape in all views is actually a surprisingly nice feature. Tweetie 2 is not the first twitter app to implement it. That honor goes to, how could you miss it, Landscape Tweets (and the version of SimplyTweet currently in the approval process, which I have been using in beta for a week now (2.5) also has it). Still, it is a nice feature and well¬†implemented¬†in Tweetie 2. I wasn’t sure. But I do find myself tipping the iPhone over to landscape a lot in List View, and in Tweet View. I almost always use the landscape compose view (which, of course has been available for a long time in many clients). I really like Tweetie’s little arrows at the top of the screen in landscape view that allow you to move through your tweets without returning to the list view (they are there in portrait too, but I am less apt to use them). Somehow it is just easier and more relaxed ¬†for me to read the screen in landscape. Your mileage, of course, ¬†may vary.

And while we are at it, Tweetie 2’s compose screen is elegantly done. Tap the character counter and the keyboard is replaced by a feature selection panel that includes icons for ¬†url¬†shortening, picture attachment (from the library, including video if you have a video accepting service enabled in the settings,¬†or the camera), geotaging, as well as access to recent #hastags and to your list of follow/followers (for @addressing purposes). These options are not unique to Tweetie, of course (SimplyTweet, for one, duplicates them, and adds text shortening, as does Twittelator), but the icon panel replacing the keyboard is.

landscape tweet view

landscape tweet view

The other much heralded (and lauded)  set of Tweetie 2 features has to do with its off-line, tweet caching, and draft abilities. Here, again to be honest, Tweetie 2 is just catching up to Twittelator, and Twittelator goes way beyond Tweetie 2 in its ability to save, view, and work with individual tweets, as well as user-defined sets and selections of tweets. Off-line reading and composition has been in Twittelator almost from the beginning (Twitt a later?).

And both Tweetie 2 and Twittelator apparently trade caching for limits on the number of tweets they load and cache. Tweetie 2 apparently loads about 200 tweets at a time, and caches maybe that many more. Unfortunately 200 tweets, for me, is about an hour’s worth at most times of day…which means my timeline in Tweetie 2 has big gaps unless I open the app on fairly regular basis. I am spoiled, again, by SimplyTweets ability to load all tweets since the last one I read (and that can be 1000 or more first thing in the morning). It is not that I read all those tweets. But I do like to cherry pick, and I do like to know they came in.

swipe pop up icon bar

swipe pop up icon bar

And, speaking of cherry picking, for me, Tweetie’s lack (so far) of groups or sub-lists is a real limitation…I need to be able to have quick access to the tweets of those twits that I really follow, as opposed to those that I casually follow. I don’t want to miss a tweet from my immediate family, or from my closest twitter friends. (Then there are special purposes lists, like my list of twitter app developers ūüôā

Of course, Twitter has just implemented their own lists function (which is what Tweetie’s author always said he was waiting on). I don’t have it on my Twitter page yet, so I have not been able to experiment with it, and can not comment on how it works in comparison, say, to Seesmic Desktops groups, Twittelator’s sub-groups, or SimplyTweet’s lists…and I do not know how long it will take Twitter to make the lists function available through API to external clients, but I do know that I, for one, need lists now…and both Twittelator and SimplyTweet provide them.

tweetie2 402

advanced settings include many integration options

And then there is push. I have, somewhat to my own surprise, come to like push in a twitter client. SimplyTweet has great push. It pushes all your accounts. You can go so far as to turn off auto-load for @mentions and DMs and just rely on push, since, even when the app is open, there is an audible and visual alert when a new @ or DM comes in.

Tweetie 2, on the other hand (like Twittelator), still relies on Boxcar or another 3rd party app for its push funcition. True, yesterday they made Boxcar 2 free, and Boxcar 2 has push for FaceBook as well as Twitter (and email if you use the forwarding service)…but…Boxcar is only free for a single twitter or facebook account. If you have more than one twitter account, or you want to use it for both twitter and fb, there is a charge for each additional account. And it is still a separate app, which has to be generalized to cover a lot of twitter clients, and simply can not be completely integrated with any of them…not the way SimplyTweet’s push is completely and seamlessly implemented within the program.

Tweet view action options

Tweet view action options

When working with individual tweets, Tweetie 2 has an excellent set of options (see the screen capture). At first I thought that the one that I use every day in SimplyTweet is not there. I post the links to my Pic of the Day blogs at least twice a day, and it is very nice to be able to open the first post and simply repost it, sometimes adding “In case U missed it.” SimplyTweet calls this Reposting. Tweetie can actually do exactly the same thing using the Quote Tweet button.

What Tweetie2 does have, that is still, I think, relatively unique, is integration with a lot of external twitter apps and services. This goes well beyond the usual read it later services. It includes TextExpander integration, both send to Tweetie from Expander and in-app snippit expansion within Tweetie…for those¬†addicted¬†to snippets (actually, version 2.5 of SimplyTweet, currently under review as mentioned above, has full TextExpander integration as well). For other examples of other services take a look at the screen shots for the account views and settings (above).

Account view options

Account view options

Tweetie 2 also has intergration with the iPhone’s ¬†Contacts app. You can create a contact from a twitter follow/follower. I can’t think of any reason why you would want to do that, but it is there, and maybe I simply lack imagination.

Little things I like about Tweetie 2:

1) the way it displays a little icon in list view on tweets with image links, and the way it displays a little thumbnail of the image in tweet view.

2) the swipe icon bar with its excellent range of options (see screen shot above), including an action icon that opens up even more options.

3) the ability to display real names or screen names (though only SimplyTweet allows you to display both at the same time).

4) the ability to view DMs from those who DM you in conversation mode, going backwards from the current DM.

5) the In Reply To button in tweet view that allows you to trace a chain of @s back through time (though the Conversation view of @s in SimplyTweet is easier).

6) switching your atvar to the other side of the tweet in list view for your own tweets: kind of like bubble view without the annoying (to me) bubbles.

7) as already mentioned, the little up/down arrows in tweet view that allow you to move tweet to tweet without returning to the list timeline view.

8) the speed at which the app opens and loads your timeline and the responsiveness of all controls (a biggie!).

Still there are reasons, some big, some small, that  SimplyTweet will stay on my iPhone, and Tweetie 2 will, despite my having invested $6 in the app now, be retired to my iTunes library to wait for further upgrades.

Account view, but no view of recent tweets without clicking the link

Account view, but no view of recent tweets without clicking the link

The biggest reason is undoubtedly the fully intergrated, all accounts, push that SimplyTweet handles so well. Close second is SimplyTweet’s easy and excellent ¬†implementation¬†of lists of selected followers. Third is the fact that Tweetie still does not display the number of unread tweets, @s or DMs, and only marks unreads in the DM view.

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.

So, Tweetie 2 is a good twitter app…even a great twitter app. But, for all that, it will not replace SimplyTweet in the main launch bar at the bottom of my iPhone screen! Not yet.

Written by singraham

October 17, 2009 at 10:41 am

SimplyTweet: an app in rapid development – v2.2 on its way.

with 5 comments

SimTwLogo

[Note: 2.2 is now live in the App Store. iTunes link]

It is always interesting to watch something grow, and SimplyTweet users have a unique experience right now. SimplyTweet is an app in rapid development. I wrote my first review based on a beta of 2.0 when 1.7 was current in the App Store. 2.1 came out last week with major new features and refinements, and 2.2 has been submitted, with even more features and refinements. The author of the program has been unusually responsive to user feedback, and really seems to try to program in any truly useful feature or refinement his users ask for.

And yet, he maintains a solid vision of the operating  simplicity and essential responsiveness and speed needed for a useful twitter client. Added features have not added to the complexity of the program, or slowed it down. They have fit unobtrusively into the existing framework. New users will still find the basic, surface functions of maintaining a twitter account and a twitter correspondence fast and easy. Experienced users, and those who put a higher demand on their twitter client, will find the enriched feature set of SimplyTweet easily and logically accessible.

A note: new users often compare load times for SimplyTweet with an existing client on their iPhone, and think that SimTweet is slower. They do not realize that, unlike other clients which load a limited (often user selected) number of tweets on startup, SimTweet, by default, loads all the tweets since the one you last read (you can shut this off in the Settings App). That might be as many as 1000 tweets. In the morning, for me, following 500 plus tweeps, SimTweet often loads 700 tweets. That takes a few seconds. However, during the day when I am checking tweets on a regular basis, and SimTweet is loading 100 or less tweets since my last read, it is as fast or faster than any client loading a similar number. (Most clients for the iPhone max out at a 200 tweet load.)

If you want to see how fast it can be, start SimTweet, read all your tweets, hit refresh and read those very quickly, then close SimTweet and restart. If it loads less than 20 tweets it practically jumps to life.

Rapid development? Take a look at the new features and refinements added since 2.0 hit the App store with Push and Themes.

New in 2.1

Block/Unblock support
– Update icons
Allow account switching by tapping on navigation bar of timelines
– The current account used is now displayed on the navigation bar of Favorites
– Choice to have the friends timeline refresh after sending a new tweet
Add support to update user profile image
– Add support to view large profile pictures
– Add support for reposting tweets

– Add support for copying text/links in tweet/DM view
– When receiving a push notification while SimplyTweet is running, the
affected timeline (Mentions or DM) is reloaded immediately if it is
visible, otherwise it is reloaded automatically when the user tabs to
it

Coming in 2.2

Add support for uploading video (single video, optionally with
multiple photos) to Posterous and yfrog

– Built-in photo viewer now allows you to view the video (button in
toolbar) in a Posterous post

– Built-in photo viewer now supports MobyPicture
– Add support to view a user’s favorites from the account view
– Add support for search for replies (@whoever) to a user from the account view
– After picking/taking a photo for updating the user profile picture,
you are now asked to crop it to a square (since Twitter crops it
anyway, might as well do it yourself)
– If you take a photo while drafting a tweet/DM, the photo is
automatically saved to your camera roll
Add option for larger text size
Add option to display Real name in addition to Account name in timelines
Add “Conversation between us” function in Account view
– Upon a push while SimplyTweet is running, but screen is locked, the
DM and mentions timeline will now autorefresh when the screen is
unlocked to reveal the new mention/DM (with badge count)
– You can now post media (picture/video) without typing any text
– If you are in the drafting window (DM or Tweet) and SimplyTweet is
quit by pressing the home button, the draft is automatically saved
– Change default theme to Silver

I have said it before: SimplyTweet is simply the best Twitter client currently available on the iPhone/iPod Touch platform.

Written by singraham

August 10, 2009 at 5:51 am

Twitter Push on the iPhone. Your mileage may vary.

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When Apple announced Push Notifications as part of the OS 3.0 upgrade for the iPhone and iPod Touch, I was really uncertain of the value. I don’t do SMS so I am not used to my phone alerting me to incoming anything.

On the other hand I use Twitter fairly heavily (as maybe you guessed from all the Twitter client reviews on CDNNs), and when the first Twitter clients with Push for Mentions and Direct Messages began to appear, of course I had to try a few.

And I can say that I like it. I have three Twitter accounts and a total of maybe 500 friends and followers. I get a fair volume of @s and the occasional DM. For me push works. I like getting that audible alert on the phone when I am working on the computer to let me know of new mentions or messages. It is nice to be able to quickly look at the phone screen to see what’s up. It is nice not to have to load the @s and DMs every time I open my client (makes for faster opens on any client).

You should realize that none of these Push options is real time. The client server has to check Twitter for your @s and DMs, then send a push notification to the servers at Apple, who then sent it out to you. There appear to be time limits too. This can happen every 10 minutes, every 5, or every 3. Each developer who uses push has to determine the balance between practical and prompt, between timely and annoying.

That said, though, twitter push, for me, is good.

If you want it on your phone your current options are:

Single service Twitter Push apps which you buy separately and use in conjunction with your favorite Twitter client.

or

Twitter Clients with built in Push.

To my knowledge there are three Twitter Push apps currently in the store.

Tweet Push: $.99, supports Twitterific, Tweetie, Twittelator, TwitterFon, and SimplyTweet Pro (that last is a puzzler since SimplyTweet Pro (see below) does its own pushing). Note: this is paid service. You pay so much per day, per Twitter account.

Boxcar: $2.99, supports Tweetie, Twitterific, TwitterFon, Twittelator, and Twinkle. Opens @s and DMs in the client of your choice. I bought this before I realized that it does not do multiple Twitter accounts. For me that is a killer. Of no use to me.

iTweetReply $1.99, current version opens Pushed @s and DMs in its own conversation view with limited Twitter features. Coming version will open both in Tweetie, Twitterific, TwitterFon, Twittelator Pro, or Twinkle. The app store description does not say it supports multiple accounts so I am assuming that is a NO.

There are currently three Twitter clients with built in Push.

iTwitter $2.99  was the first, but it only does Push between iTwitter users. Not very practical. Save your $2.99 until they get that worked out.

Twitbit $4.99, came next (by a hair), and is at least a competent Twitter client for the casual user. It lacks power features, and any unread counts or indications, but for most folks it will be fine. Version 1.0.1 is pending in the app store and will add the missing (???) Retweet and DM functions. It does multiple accounts.

SimplyTweet 2.0 $4.99, as previously reviewed, is a power Twitter client with a full feature set, and some features found no where else (easily reply to multiple tweets for one, and attach multiple pics to a single tweet for another). It does multiple accounts, has an elegant unread count, is fairly fast, and has a better than average UI. Push works well, and the author is tweeking the Push rate to make it even more responsive. (SimplyTweet is a one man show, and Hwee-Boon Yar has perhaps the most open and responsive development process I have seen. He responds to suggestions, often with new features,  and attempts to fix every issue brought to his attention.) The only features it lacks are 1) video upload, 2) audio upload, and 3) ping.fm or Facebook integration.

Now, if you are patient, TwitterFon has already promised Push by late summer, and I suspect both Tweetie and Twitterific will be forced to follow or they will begin to lose market share.

In the meantime, the only real option as far as I am concerned is SimplyTweet 2.0: great client with push…what more could you ask.

Written by singraham

July 25, 2009 at 7:30 am

SimplyTweet takes the lead in the iPhone Twitter client race.

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SimplyTweet Stands Out: that is a push notification on that icon!

SimplyTweet Stands Out: that is a push notification on that icon!

[This was written while v2.0 was still pending in the App Store. 2.1 is the current version in the Store, and 2.2 has been submitted. This is an app in rapid development. See update]

If I were to tell you that there is a Twitter client ¬†for the iPhone out there that has the speed, ease of use, and attractiveness (including choice of themes, and multiple accounts) of an app like Tweetie or Twitterfon Pro; as deep a feature set as Twittelator Pro or TweetDeck (including unread counts and the equivalent of groups, bookmarks, and saved searches); and…drum roll…the first ever, full fledged, any Twitter client, push notifications!…you might say (as I did), “Okay, then why haven’t I heard of it?”

Did I say Push Notificationspush notifications that work the way you always expected push to function. I did!

First reason so few have heard of SimplyTweet might be the unassuming and wildly modest (not to say totally  inappropriate) name. SimplyTweet sounds like it might be one of those single function quick status updators that proliferated in the early days of the iPhone app store. Instead, it is, as hinted above, a mature (v1.7 current, 2.0 under review at the app store as I write), intelligently designed and implemented client that equals, and exceeds,  the features of much better known apps.

ConvThe second reason is a rather unique design that, until now, has emphasized one feature above all others: the ability to view tweets and replies as a conversation, going back as far as the chain goes. SimTweet (for brevity) used, through current version 1.7, a single uncustomizable timeline view modeled on chat bubbles (still an option in apps like Tweetie), but from any open tweet,¬†or from the timeline contols themselves,¬†you could also select a conversation view in a similar chat bubble format (the only other app that I know of that has this ability is Twittelator Pro). ¬†Still, the lack of themes, along with some people’s aversion to chat bubbles (even Tweetie had to give in to users who didn’t like them), and the one feature to rule all others (Twitter is about conversations) way the program has been presented, may well have served to keep it low on Twitterati’s radar.

I am not saying that conversation tracking and conversation view is a trivial or an unimportant feature. It is what I like best about Twittelator Pro, and, until SimTweet 2.0 hits the app store with functional Push Notifications and essentially changes the nature of the game, it is still, among a host of strong features, SimTweet’s strongest feature.

Family Saved View (group)

Family Saved View (group)

My review is based on the still pending v2.0, but somewhere along the line another killer feature crept into SimTweet. I don’t have a change log for the various versions before 1.7 so I don’t know when it arrived, but Saved Views (in SimTweetese) is the kind of¬†functional¬†advance that only a few other iPhone clients have yet managed. In more common terms, Saved Views are subgroups, as in Twittelator Pro, or groups, as in TweetDeck (or Seesmic on the desktop). You can select a group of the tweeps you follow (from an indexed list of followers that SmTweet presents for you), name the group (or view), and save it. It then appears on the More page along with all the other options. Tap it, and SmTweet assembles the tweets from each of the tweeps on your list and presents them (and only them) as a timeline. So slick.

Saved View with single Friend (bookmark)

Saved View with single Friend (bookmark)

And, of course, by making a Saved View that only contains one of those you follow, you have duplicated Twittelator Pro’s bookmark function. Two for one. Not bad.

Finally, in a really brilliant move, SmTweet (at least in v2.0) provides the option on the user profile page to add the open user to any of your saved views. So easy. So obvious. Best group implementation to date.

SmTweet also has a robust inline browser, a pic viewer which works with most of the major pic sharing sites (so the browser does not have to open to view a pic link). It is the one of the first pic viewers I have seen that offers lanscape view…and if there is more than one pic url in a tweet, or a link to a Posterous slideshow, it presents the pics as a slideshow with next and previous buttons.

Pic Viewer in Landscape mode

Pic Viewer in Landscape mode

It is this kind of attention to detail that makes me totally amazed (and a little saddened) that so few have ever heard of SimplyTweet!

Swipe brings up the Timeline tweet controls

Swipe brings up the Timeline tweet controls

As though that were not enough pic goodness, v2.0 also includes a Picture Search function under the More tab (so far as I know, totally unique in a Twitter client, and very rare on the iPhone at all), that uses keywords and tags to search several of the major Twitter friendly  pic sharing sites and return a set of pics to match.

Have I mentioned that the control set of SmTweet is one of the best designed of any client I have seen. It uses a similar swipe popup control on the timeline and conversation views to display Reply, Favor, and View Conversation Icons. Tapping the atvar on any Tweet opens the corresponding user profile page with all the usual information and the ability to drill down into followers and followed.

The open tweet page has its own set of controls, from Reply in the upper right, to Conversation View and Retweet in the lower left. The lower right has your standard reply swoosh over a box (sometimes called the action icon), and indeed, reveals a set of controls to email or post a link to the tweet in question. (Through v1.7 SmTweet kicked you out to the mail app to mail your tweet. Beginning with v2.0 it has an inline mail function that keeps you within SmTweet. Much better!)

OpTwProActions@s

The User Profile page has a DM composition control in the upper right and, again the swoosh box action icon in the lower right. This were the option to add the tweep to one of your Saved Views is hidden, along with a reply option, and, deep breath, the¬†ability¬†to a attach a note to that user’s profile…unless, of course, you are on your own profile page, where those options are replaced with a control that allows you to, get this, edit your Twitter profile right from inside SmTweet! Again, I know of no other client that allows you to do this.

SimplyTweet? I don’t think so. This app is certainly simple to use, but it goes way beyond simply tweeting.

It is than attention to detail thing again. For instance, the new themes in v2.0 are among the most elegant I have seen in any app. Silver and Twilight in particular are, imho, beautiful. Then too, SmTweet allows you to choose one of three formats for retweets: RT, via, and via with quotations. ¬†It allows you to set Posterous as a tweet overflow url so long tweets get a link at the end to the complete text saved on your Posterous account. How cool is that? There is also Instapaper integration. The More tab is rich. Here you find items like Trends, access to your saved profile notes, an option to view the Public Twitter timeline, a Go To User function that will open any user’s profile directly, your accounts settings, and the Saved Views you have created.

lscomp

Composition Box

And then take the composition box, which operates either portrait or landscape. In addition to the post picture icon and the character count, there is another action icon. Under there is a popup with controls to shorten the tweet, shorten a URL, enter your location, recall a saved hastag (or copy one in a tweet your are replying to), and, best, to bring up an indexed list of your friends so you can easily enter @users (as many as you like).

Composition Action popup

Composition Action popup

The specialized DM composition box also has a + icon in the address field, which allows you to select a different follower and redirect the DM (Again, attention to detail beyond the ordinary.)

And I have not even more than mentioned the most noteworthy 2.0 feature: Push Notifications. Unless the app store approval process screws things up, SimplyTweet stands to be the first full featured Twitter app out the door with truely functional Push Notifications. True, iTwitter is out there, but it only has push between two people using iTwitter. And there are now several single function or limited function apps whose only real purpose is to push notifications form Twitter, and give you the option to open the reply or DM in a so far limited set of Twitter clients. SmTweet does it right. When someone replies to you or direct messages you a message box opens on the home screen (even when your iPhone or Touch is asleep) with a truncated version of the tweet. By default your device also chimes (you can turn notifications off in the Settings app, or disable any level of Push alert.) If, when the Apple Push server poles Twitter, you have more than one @ or DM in the cue, it gives the text of the first and an approximate number of those waiting. Unlocking the iPhone or Touch boots you directly into SmTweet to view the @s or DMs. If your iPhone or Touch is awake when the Push comes, you get a box with control options so you can choose to view or ignore. If you ignore or fail to unlock, the  number of waiting @s and DMs is appended to the SmTweet icon on the app page so you will see it when next you check. At this point there are sometimes lags in Push, but as Apple works out the kinks, it will get better.

PushAs I said, SmTweet does Push right and does it well. Very, very impressive for a Twitter client no one has ever heard of. Very very impressive for any twitter client. Way to go SimplyTweet! This is Push the way everyone hopes and expects it to work.

So, is SimplyTweet perfect? Of course not. I have my wish list, based mostly on things other clients already do.

In the Settings App

In the Settings App

I’d like to see:

1) a “display real names option” (Tweetie, Twittelator Pro, TweetDeck)
2) an easy way to switch between multiple accounts
3) a conversation view for DMs (Tweetie, Twittelator Pro)
4) ping.fm integration for simultaneous posts to Twitter and Facebook (or direct post to Facebook through their API (I can dream)).

Then too, while it just about equals Twittelator Pro’s standard twitter feature set, it is totally lacking (for worse or better depending on how you feel about it) Twlator’s multi-media features. No posting of video or audio from SimplyTweet (yet). Of course there are a few stand alone apps that work well for that already. Media Tweet can use any number of sharing services and post to both Twitter and Facebook through services that offer that feature. TwitReel has its own app and video posting service. Audoboo, is of course, Twitter for audio. You can email any media format to Posterous. I suspect the next iteration of the ¬†MobyPicture app will allow video and audio upload as the service already takes all media.

Despite my wishlist, SimplyTweet 2.0 (still under review at the app store)  is quite simply a length ahead of any other twitter client out there at the moment. Push, all by itself, is enough to put it out front, but it is the solid feature set, many of which are very rare or totally unique, that really gives it is commanding (imho) lead.

SimplyTweet? I don’t think so. SuperTweet. SuperiorTweet. Surprisingly wonderlishish Tweet app extraordinaire! SimplyTweet is simply the best.

Written by singraham

July 12, 2009 at 6:04 pm