Tweetie for Mac

April 23, 2009

I know, just what you need, another take on Atebits' latest creation, Tweetie for Mac (which was released earlier this week), but bear with me, because my opinion matters!  ;)

127-character review: superficially, the app clearly has a minimalist bent (nice!), but that elegant simplicity belies its very powerful feature set (much like the iPhone version of the app).

When I initially launched the app I really wasn't sure whether it was going to work for me in the long run; yeah, it was pretty, but I'd become so accustomed to TweetDeck's multi-column interface (see my previous post on TweetDeck) that I didn't think I could ever deviate too far from it.

That said, after having used Tweetie for three full days now, I definitely am sold on it (hell, I already (happily) dropped $15 on the no-ads version). In fact, most of the people I follow on Twitter who have given it a shot have made it known that they too have been persuaded to leave behind whatever client they were using previously.

Tweetie for Mac is beautiful, fast and works just the way I want. Indeed, like its iPhone equivalent (from which it borrows much of its look and feel), it's now the desktop client to beat as far as I'm concerned.

Tweetie separates your tweets into three categories (each of which gets its own icon): main timeline, mentions (i.e., @replies+) and direct messages, and you can view only one of these at any give time. At first I thought this would be a deal breaker for me given how much I'd come to rely on TweetDeck's ability to let me see all three of these at once. However, I've come to like a lot the one-context view; it makes the app a bit more unobtrusive and ‘backgroundy.' Furthermore, I quite like the animation that occurs when you switch between the three views; it's fun.

I love love love the way Tweetie maintains scroll position. Here's how it works: switch to the app, read, scroll up, read, scroll up, etc., until there are no more unread tweets. No thought is required with regard to which tweets you have or haven't read, or where you were in the timeline when you last took the focus away from the app; when you return to the program you simply begin where you left off. (I'm pretty sure Twitterrific is the only other desktop app that handles this sort of thing even remotely "correctly.")

Another great feature is the ability to set a system-wide keyboard shortcut for bringing up the "New Tweet" dialog. Truth be told, when I first noticed that posting tweets in Tweetie occurred in a window separate from the main app, I immediately started thinking about how I might invoke it with a global hotkey (e.g., by using some combination of AppleScript, FastScripts and the provided JavaScript (bookmarklet)). Not until after I was well on my way to figuring that out did I notice that Tweetie provided the same thing natively. This feature really goes to the background-iness of the app; with a simple key sequence I can fire off a tweet without ever having to jump into the app proper (and risk getting sucked into catching up on the timeline). (Yes, you of course could do this a hundred different ways (e.g., via Quicksilver), but it's nice that it's built into the app.)

In addition to the stuff outlined above, the app is filled with all kinds of thoughtful niceties:

  • If you scroll to the end of the timeline it automatically pulls down the next few tweets.
  • If you click too far down a rabbit hole, you can see your path at the top (similar to what Path Finder does when you're browsing your machine) and click any "point" along the path to get back to that point.
  • Clicking a hashtag runs a search on it.
  • Shortened URIs are resolved so that you can see where they link to before you go to them (TweetDeck recently added this too).
  • Double-clicking a tweet reveals its conversation history (if existent).
  • Direct messages and @replies are displayed in "conversation" form.

(Also, it's worth mentioning that after three full days of solid use, the app is eating up less than 30MB of real memory; TweetDeck could not get off the ground with just 30MB, much less stay in the air.)

There are of course some things I'd like to see modified/added, most of which I'm sure already are on Atebits' radar:

  • Icon list (e.g., timeline, mentions, etc.) on the right rather than the left.
  • Option to remove the menubar icon.
  • Ability to change the rate at which the app polls for new tweets.
  • Indication of the number of unread tweets.
  • Indication of how many API requests remain before the quota is reset.
  • Something other than "Bad Gateway" to indicate current API issues (perhaps there are others, but in three days that's all I've seen).

On the whole, it's a great application that you want to use.

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