September 28, 2009
You might be wondering where I’ve been for the past four months. Counting my cash on a beach surrounded by bikini-clad women?
Naah. Actually, I’ve been in my batcave slaving away on something really, really cool. It’s Tweetie 2. And it’s coming - first for iPhone, then for Mac.
A bit of history. About ten months ago I was a big shot with 20 Twitter followers. In my spare time I wrote this app called Tweetie because I wasn’t satisfied with the current state of Twitter clients. A few people bought it. Then a few more bought it. Then I realized this App Store thing was actually pretty popular, and
($2.99 - 30%) x enough people = a living.
I had no idea it would become so successful. I think it had something to do with the fact that it embraced the iPhone interface philosophy. Many other apps “invented their own wheel”, Tweetie did it the Apple way. I gave a talk at Stanford about it. And I won something that I had dreamed about since the day I learned Cocoa so many years ago (thanks James). I’m beyond honored.
At the same time I knew that Tweetie 1.x could only go so far. Like the original Mac OS, it blended an intuitiveness with a well rounded set of features. But the “core” needed to be replaced. Not one to rest on my laurels, I started Project Bigbird, which was a new Twitter “core” meant to last.
Tweetie for Mac was the first app powered by Bigbird. Like Mac OS X 10.0, it was missing some features that would make you scratch your head when you’re already accustomed to OS 9. But if you used it you couldn’t deny the feeling that there was something special behind the scenes.
Since the launch of Tweetie for Mac, I have been bringing Bigbird down to the iPhone. In the process, it’s become faster, slimmer, and much more powerful. The great news is that all these changes will trickle back up to the Mac. But more about that later. Today I’d like to talk about Bigbird on the iPhone: Tweetie 2.
I seeded what I hope to be the final beta of Tweetie 2 for iPhone last night. If all goes well, I will submit to Apple this week and from there… well, you know the drill.
It’s been a long process, but it will be worth it. Once I sync the codebase for Tweetie for Mac and Tweetie for iPhone, expect an explosion in functionality. I will be able to explore new features in Tweetie for Mac, pushing out updates there instantly, and once I’m confident that changes are stable, push updates to the iPhone.
What exactly is it?
Making a “2.0” could have been easy. I could have changed the version number, added video tweeting and called it a day. Other apps call that “2.0” - I think it’s lame.
Tweetie 1 set a new standard for Twitter clients and iPhone apps in general. It proved that you didn’t have to sacrifice intuitiveness for functionality. Today we have iPhone OS 3.0, 3GS, and new Twitter APIs. Tweetie 2 is built from the ground up to take advantage of these fantastic new technologies.
First, Tweetie 2 is OS 3.0+ only. If you haven’t updated, now’s the time. It leverages everything, from the fun things like video recording (of course you can video tweet), to the downright awesome things like UISearchDisplayController so you live-filter your tweet stream, just like Mail.
It contains a metric ton of new stuff. There is full persistence - not just caching tweets for offline reading, but remembering where you are in the app. You could be viewing a conversation of a tweet of a recent mention of one of your followers, quit the app (or get a phone call), and when you come back, the entire UI stack is restored. Speaking of offline reading, there is also a fantastic offline mode. You can favorite, follow, block, add to Instapaper and more all while offline. Next time you connect, all of those actions will be synced back up.
There’s a drafts manager, you can even use it to compose tweets and DMs while you’re on the subway, and blast them out simultaneously as soon as you get out. (And if you’re a fan of Birdhouse, you can now send drafts to it from Tweetie).
You can link up Twitter users to contacts in your iPhone Address Book. Forget just adding notes, you can link up with email addresses, phone numbers, and more - and even better, all of that linkage information is backed up when you sync your phone.
Threaded conversations are there, just like the Mac version, as are nice tab bar notifications so you can see at a glance if you have new items. “Nearby” has been revamped to take advantage of MapKit (it’s even cooler than you can imagine), and Tweetie 2 already supports the new geotagging metadata coming soon from Twitter.
The compose screen design has been completely overhauled, with a @people picker, recent hashtags, multiple attachments manager, and a “peek” gesture when replying to a tweet.
Plus: full landscape support (configurable, of course), edit your Twitter profile, custom API roots on a per-account basis, vastly improved gesture shortcuts, in-app rich-text email, new-style retweet support, refresh-all on launch, TextExpander, Read it Later integration (in addition to Instapaper), autocomplete recent searches, autocomplete go-to-user, improved avatar caching, inline Twitlonger, reply chain list view, preview short urls, tweet translation, block+follow from multiple accounts at once, and that’s just the stuff I can think of off the top of my head.
And here’s the beauty of this: just as Tweetie 1 proved that you didn’t have to sacrifice usability for functionality, Tweetie 2 proves it again. Every single one of these features fits naturally into the user interface, none adds unnecessary complexity. It’s arguably even simpler than Tweetie 1, all while being vastly more powerful.
After all, what good is a feature if you can’t figure out how to use it?
What’s the deal?
Tweetie 2 for Mac will be a completely free upgrade. (So if you haven’t already grabbed a license, feel free to do so). On the other hand, Tweetie 2 for iPhone will be a whole new app. And while it’s arguably worth a lot more, I’m keeping the price exactly the same: $2.99.
I’ll keep the world posted on the status from @atebits and @tweetie, as well as post screenshots, screencasts, and some other sneak peeks that are sure to whet your appetite until the App Store Gods deem Tweetie 2 worthy.
Can’t wait for you to try it out. Thanks for waiting - I think it will be worth it.