TweetDeck has always been a popular choice among tweeters who want to maximise their potential on the social network. It’s by far the most popular third-party client with a 19% market share in June 2009 and it’s an application I’ve personally used for a long time.
TweetDeck started out as an Adobe Air application for desktop, but expanded into the mobile and tablet arena some twelve months later with an iPhone version. Now, nearly two years later, the iPhone experience has been completely overhauled and rebuilt with several new features alongside a brand new user interface. This changes everything. Again.
What’s new in TweetDeck 2?
I want to note that this is not just a review of the second iteration of the app. While I will cover what’s new in the update, i’m trying to approach this review as a new user by looking at the overall experience and the app in general, not in comparison. So, let’s get what’s new out of the way.
The new user interface is what will strike you first. TweetDeck 2.0 has a completely new (or rather, relatively new) interface that has apparently been built by the same developers who built the Android application. This is very obvious if you’ve ever used the now-out-of-beta Android application. Inside the new visuals is the columns system that TweetDeck is known for, but even that has been changed up in the latest version. You can swipe between columns, add new ones with ease and a new “flow” between user profiles and tweets.
Additionally, the new app includes Deck.ly support which is TweetDeck’s own extended tweet service for posts over 140 characters.
There’s also a bunch of additional tweaks that will become convenient and useful as you start using the application in your main social media experience.
The user interface of TweetDeck maintains the same dark colour scheme of the other platform apps as well as the column layout that you’ll be used to if you’ve used any other TweetDeck app. By default, there are three preloaded columns: your main stream, mentions and direct messages. However, adding new columns is literally a tap away with a simple plus button in the top-left corner. From that menu, one can add new columns based on a user or a currently trending topic. Navigating to it is, then, just a swipe to either the left or right.
Columns act in just the same way as the main list area of any Twitter application. You can scroll up or down and tap on a single tweet to visit it’s extended view. In addition to the tweet itself, this view also details information about the user who sent it (and an easy shortcut to their profile) and the options to perform the general Twitter actions of re-tweeting, replying, favouring etc. Additionally, tweets can be translated or emailed from the contextual menu.
Navigating to a user’s profile shows their profile image, name, handle and description as well as some key states such as follower count and the number of lists that the user appears in. Maintaining the same column interface, a swipe to the right leads you to their tweets and onto other custom feeds. The whole swipe-based input seemed a lot more confusing in the old version so it’s nice to know that it’s been redesigned here.
Updating your Twitter followers is perhaps the biggest job of any client. Posting tweets brings a cleaner, lighter interface with the standard controls alongside the normal iPhone soft keyboard. Entering text is pretty straightforward and so is adding a photo (either one that’s taken from the application, or brought in from your library) or tagging your location.
Retweeting tweets is also super simple. By tapping on the retweet button, you can preview the tweet and hit the yellow button to send it out native style, however, if you want to add text like an old-style one, one can just tap on the tweet area to add comments. If you reply to a tweet, the same interface appears as if you were composing a new one, only with the addition of the twitter handles you’re replying to. If multiple handles appear, any secondary ones are highlighted so they can be easily deleted.
If your tweet breaches the 140 character limit, TweetDeck’s own Deck.ly service comes into play. If you try and send a 140+ character tweet, the option to post to Deck.ly is available which posts the first part of the tweet followed by a link to Deck.ly. This way, your tweet about your hamburger, or your sixteenth tweet about sport in the space of two minutes can be even longer!
TweetDeck versus Twitter for iPhone
It’s no secret that Twitter likes their Apple devices and naturally have native applications for all of Apple’s platforms. So, when you get your new Apple device, do you opt for TweetDeck or Twitter’s own offering. Each is distinctly different even if they perform the same tasks. TweetDeck opts for a darker, custom UI whereas Twitter uses a more standard iPhone interface. Each have a similar “flow” between different parts of the application (from tweet to user profile, for example) and their similarities are masked by the difference of interface.
I personally prefer the official Twitter application. The interface is certainly a unique spin on things, but I actually prefer the standard iPhone UI in the official app. Everything seems a lot easier to understand for new users in the official app, but TweetDeck can be seen as offering an overall better experience once you get the hang of things. However, it just seems to me that both apps seem the quite similar and the third-party option doesn’t see as much deviation from the norm as apps like Tweetbot do.
TweetDeck is a popular and solid alternative to Twitter’s official offering but it’s hard to recommend over similar, third-party applications. While it does its job well, if I was going the third-party application route, I’d prefer something like Tweetbot that adds some more unique functionality.
The tweaks added in TweetDeck 2.0 are welcome and help further the application’s standing in the Twitter universe. It remains free – which is always a nice point – and is a refreshing change with the darker interface and column/swipe UI.