10 December 2011

TweetDeck reaches version one, with some help from Twitter

Along with the second redesign announced yesterday, the app for TweetDeck was updated, hitting version 1 and showing for the first time clear signs of the new ownership. As stated on their home page as well, TweetDeck is essentially Twitter’s web client for power users, while the main Twitter website is aimed at a more mainstream audience.

TweetDeck is an app that brings more flexibility and insight to power users.

New TweetDeck tweet conversationThe most obvious change is the new design, closely matching Twitter’s, starting with the new app icon and the blue theme for icons and links. I was never a fan of orange anyway. The app feels faster and cleaner overall, from the actions buttons to the streamlined status box. Other features have been brought up to date as well:

  • Like on the new site, you can choose to see the names of people in the columns instead of their Twitter handle.
  • And there’s also filters, not available for the web version up until now – turn them on from ‘Settings’ ► ‘Global Filter’.
  • You can choose to shorten links with bit.ly or with Twitter’s own service, but Twitter is now the default, as you would expect.
  • If you use several Chrome installations and have enabled app syncing, TweetDeck will now correctly sync your columns, their order and settings for a consistent experience everywhere. I don't know if the problem was with the browser or with the app, but until now that was not the case.
  • Users can follow entire conversations centered around individual tweets, like in the web interface – simply click the ‘More’ link after hovering. It would be nice to see the new ‘embed’ option in TweetDeck as well.
  • Scheduling has improved considerably: it’s better integrated into the status box and you can now simply type in the date and time you need, something I complained about previously. Unfortunately, some small bugs remain: for example when I scheduled an update to go out to Facebook and Twitter simultaneously, TweetDeck only posted it on Twitter; on the other hand posting to Facebook separately works.
  • Remember a while back when Twitter started letting people see other users’ timelines? This awesome feature is now fully integrated into TweetDeck: click on a user name, then on ‘Timeline’ in the overlaid profile and finally on ‘Add column’. This way you can get to feel the Twitter experience through the eyes of any other user in real time – and most likely discover a lot of new content. You can add columns and follow their favorites, mentions, tweets or lists as well.

Of course, there are some things missing from the update feature-wise:

  • TweetDeck is supposed to be available to everyone on the web through the website, but if you try to log in from anything other than Chrome or Safari results in an error message, stating that the browser is unsupported and inviting users to install the standalone app, which is nothing more than the webapp wrapped in a WebKit renderer – basically a browser that can render only a single site. Hopefully the support will be extended to other browsers as well, there shouldn’t be any technical reason for WebKit exclusivity.
  • You still can’t manage your own lists from inside TweetDeck; a weird oversight, considering most of the other functions can be performed here directly and this is supposed to be a client for power users, who use lists more often than casual twitterers.
  • There are no keyboard shortcuts, again something a power user would expect and that the Twitter website has…
  • The new version dropped the option to translate tweets. It’s not something I used often, but it was a small time-saver for tweets in foreign languages I don’t read.
  • Even though Twitter vowed to keep support for other social networks in TweetDeck, the web version doesn’t support Foursquare or – the latter quite understandable, since retired it. support has been scaled back as well by removing the ability to like and comment on updates and to post to Groups; also, unlike other apps like ifttt, links posted to Facebook don’t use rich embedding.

Some glitches or poor choices have slipped into the design as well. The button in the status update box is labeled ‘Tweet’ even if you are posting to Facebook. The ‘favorite’ icon and tooltip don’t change to reflect if the current tweet is a favorite or not, which can be confusing. The biggest annoyance with the Chrome app is the huge panel dedicated to the arrow that shows the next three columns; that space would be much better used for an additional column. Since you can easily navigate with the slider located at the top center – which also displays hints about the columns titles – the right arrow seems redundant. Even so, the new TweetDeck is a powerful client for the desktop, requiring no additional install (as long as you have Chrome, at least).

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