The Trouble with Tweetie 2 (Twitter Mac Client)

I’m a long-time user of the Mac Twitter client Tweetie. Tweetie was so well done, Twitter purchased them and made Tweetie the official Mac Twitter client (renamed to just Twitter). Yesterday was the launch of its new version, one that many of us have been waiting over a year for. Especially considering the fantastic update to Twitter.com and the excellent new iPad clients such as Twitter’s own, I had high expectations for this release, and sadly, Twitter did not deliver. Twitter 2 for Mac is a major disappointment, flawed on many levels.

Let’s start with visual design. I don’t much care about others’ complaints about the app not confirming to Apple’s Human-Interface Guideline standards, but I do care whether or not an app is visually pleasing. Similar to the first version, there is a sidebar running down the left hand side of the app. The top chrome has been removed, which is fine except the only way to move the app around is by dragging it via the sidebar. That’s just something to get used to, but the problem is the visual appearance of the sidebar: it looks blurry. Even turning off translucence (as shown below) in preferences (and what an odd setting that is), doesn’t help. The highlight for showing activity is itself an inelegant blur.

As has been pointed out on Daring Fireball, the slide-out from the left transition is an odd one. It makes it seem like the right window is stacking items instead of sliding in and out.

In the sidebar are the standard Mac “jewels” of Close | Minimize | Expand even though expand does nothing, and thus adds a small bit of clutter. In Twitter’s defense, it might be a requirement from Apple to have all three.

In standard, public view, the timeline runs top to bottom, with new tweets on the top. In direct message view, it’s the opposite, presumably to be consistent with the iPhone Twitter client. It still creates a weird inconsistency that I’m sure I’d get used to over time, but why?

The visual design would be tolerable if the interaction design was good. It’s not.

Aside from viewing your stream, the action you perform the most in Twitter is write a tweet. In this client (unlike the last version), the control to instigate that action is hidden. The only ways to create a tweet are via command-N, via a command you have to self-define in preferences, or by going to a dropdown menu at the bottom of the sidebar. There is no New Tweet button—the most used user command.

Not only is there no in-line viewing of photos in your stream like most other recent clients have, but the only way to add a photo to your own tweet is via drag and drop. There is no command—button, widget, or menu—anywhere to add a photo via file. Now, I like drag and drop as much as the next person, but it should only be the default choice when you are dragging and dropping items within an application, and almost never the only choice when moving items between applications. Trying to get two applications—even Finder and Twitter—at the same Z level on your desktop is a pain. There is no menu item or even button or widget on a new tweet window to simply add a photo.

In the name of, one supposes, simplicity the manual URL shrinker has been turned into something automatic and undoable. The only indication URL shrinking is happening is that the word count changes. The new URL is 20 characters, even if the URL you put in the tweet is less than 20 characters. There are also times when you want the URL to show, so that the source is visible, but there’s no way to prevent it from happening.

There’s other little things. It would be nice to easily know if someone is following you back. You have to mouseover a tweet to see if there is a conversation happening. The lack of a preference to set how often to check Twitter. (I know it’s hard to believe someone wouldn’t want updates every minute.) There is still no easy way to send someone a Direct Message without having to search for the person first.

There are two nice features of the app: its responsiveness and the hiding of commands such as retweet until you mouseover a tweet. But these are minor things compared to the issues above. I can’t see struggling with the functionality while squinting at the app every day. Based on the excellent products Twitter has put out over the last year, I’m simply puzzled that this is such a half-baked, ill-conceived effort. Admittedly, my expectations were high, but it was partially because Twitter itself had set them so high. This certainly opens up an opportunity for another Mac Twitter client, and the bar is now lower.