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10/12/2009
10:50 AM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
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Tweetie 2: A Great iPhone Twitter Client Gets Better

Tweetie is a favorite client for Twitter power-users on the iPhone, because of its simple interface, versatility, and ease-of-use. Now, the highly anticipated new version is out, with features that make the great Twitter client for the iPhone even better, without cluttering it up.

Tweetie is a favorite client for Twitter power-users on the iPhone, because of its simple interface, versatility, and ease-of-use. Now, the highly anticipated new version is out, with features that make the great Twitter client for the iPhone even better, without cluttering it up.Tweetie 2

The iPhone has a lot of Twitter clients, and most of them are quite good, but Tweetie (app store link)is a favorite for me and for a lot of Twitter users. It's nice and clean, without cluttering up the iPhone's tiny screen. At first, you just see a single column of tweets. But, by tapping and swiping in the right places, you can do quite a lot with those tweets.

Developer Loren Brichter of Atebits announced a couple of weeks ago that he'd finalized the new version and submitted it to the App Store for approval.

I had to give Tweetie 2 a day or so of workout to appreciate it. It has a lot of new features, and, like all the best iPhone and Mac apps, it integrates all those capabilities so that they're easy to get at and use when you want them, and they stay out of the way and invisible when you don't want them.

One of my favorite features of Tweetie 2: When reading a tweet, you can touch it with your fingertip and swipe right a fraction of an inch to reveal a row of big, easy-to hit buttons to reply, follow a link, mark the message as a favorite, read the sender's profile, and more. That feature was actually present in Tweetie 1, but I didn't take advantage of it.

Tweetie 2 now supports landscape mode. If you turn your iPhone sideways, the column of tweets will be wider than it is long, for added convenience typing.

A new search capability displays nearby tweets on a map, so you can see where the other tweeters are in relation to you. I found a nearby tweeter who's a former councilman in the little Southern California town where I live, which was neat.

Another valuable new feature: Tweetie 2 supports link-shortening services. So if you're reading an article in Mobile Safari, and want to share it with your friends, you can copy the link from Safari, paste it into Tweetie, shorten it, add comments and send it on its way.

I like the way Tweetie 2 handles refreshing tweets; just pull down the whole column of tweets with your finger, let go, and Tweetie 2 downloads the latest tweets. Previously, in Tweetie 1, you tapped a "refresh" button. The change is no big deal, but it makes Tweetie 2 more fun to use than the previous version.

Other new features:

- Tweetie 2 remembers where you left off if you switch away from the app and then come back to it.

- Caching for offline reading. You can favorite tweets, save links for later reading using the Instapaper or Read It Later service, save draft tweets for later sending, retweet, and more--Tweetie 2 will save your offline actions up for you and send them to the server when you're back online.

- Link Twitter users to contacts in your address book.

- Saved searches now sync with Twitter.com.

- It's ready to support the new style of retweeting, as soon as Twitter.com rolls that out.

- Improved handling of multiple Twitter accounts.

- Support for posting videos.

The biggest problem with Tweetie 2: No push notifications. You have to open the app to find out whether you received any new tweets on it. I asked developer Loren Brichter about that in e-mail, he responded: "Push notifications are borderline impossible to pull off in any reliable way for the scale required for Tweetie users. For now, I recommend Boxcar or another third party Push client that works well with Tweetie. I'm still looking into it, but I'd rather not ship anything at all than something that only half-works." (Boxcar App Store link.)

What now? Brichter says he's working on Tweetie 2 for the Mac. It's "still in heavy development. No ETA just yet," he says. Saved searches on Twitter.com, Tweetie 2 for the iPhone and Tweetie 2 for the Mac will all synch with each other. Tweetie 2 for the Mac will be a free upgrade.

But Tweetie 2 for the iPhone isn't a free upgrade -- it's $2.99, with no upgrade discount for previous users. That decision was controversial; for example, the blog "Just Another iPhone Blog" said the pricing "spit on existing 'old app' users." MacWorld refutes this charge nicely in a humorous and well-reasoned rant that basically boils down to three words: Gimme a break.

Or maybe it's 'four words if you put the traditional Long Island modifier before the word "break."

Tweetie 1 for the iPhone was great, Tweetie 2 is better, I was happy to pay my $3 first time around and I'm happy to pay it again.

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