Hands on with Twitter for iPhone

Twitter announced several changes on Thursday, both to its website and to its mobile apps. The iPhone (s aapl)version is already live in the App Store, and there’s an updated Android client in the Android Market. Here’s a look at how the new Twitter for iPhone looks and works, and how it compares to the version it replaces.


The new app has a less complicated interface than the old one, in terms of having fewer buttons across the bottom bar, and fewer interactivity options for your main stream of tweets. It makes the experience and layout cleaner, but it also irks in some regards, especially for someone like me who manages multiple Twitter accounts. That’s because the ability to switch accounts is now located unintutively behind the “Me” tab, and takes two steps to get to from the home stream instead of just one, like the old “Accounts” button did. You can switch accounts by swiping left on the Me button, too, but it seems a little hit-or-miss.

The DM button is gone from the bottom bar, having been moved to the “Me” section, but once again, it introduces more steps, not less to get there. You can swipe up on the Me button to access your DMs from any screen, however. In the case of both changes, I can only assume Twitter found the average user wasn’t using either feature very often, and so they were better off out of the way.

The change to the tweets that appear in your home screen seem unnecessary even from that perspective, however. You can no longer access a quick menu of functions for each tweet on the home screen like you could before. Now you have to tap through to the post itself to reply, retweet or favorite the tweet.


The new Connect tab features not only @mentions, but also a new “Interactions” section that details both your conversations and tells you about new followers, much like Google+ (s goog) notifications inform you of new connections, in groups divided by days. It’s a small, but welcome, addition and should mean more users can turn off email notifications of new follows and still keep on that info.


One definitely positive change is the “Discover” section. It includes the ability to search Twitter, but also introduces more information and context for #hashtags and trending stories. You can see information about each popular “Story” listed, and then tap through for tweets that mention the subject, armed beforehand with some useful information about what the story actually means. It’s a big improvement for Twitter’s trending topics, and one that should serve the service’s efforts to appeal to marketers, and average users, well.

BetterĀ overall? Depends.

Overall, I’m seeing a lot of positive reaction to the aesthetic changes made to the iOS Twitter app on Twitter, and it definitely feels truer to Twitter’s brand than the previous, mostly generic incarnation. I’ll miss the in-stream ability to interact with content, however, which for me emphasized Twitter’s prioritization of communication above all else. Plus, it still doesn’t address the issue of the notification badge count remaining at one, and there’s still not a way to mark all your DMs as read at once. Despite its failings, I’m betting for the majority of casual users, with the addition of Interactions and Discover, this will probably be considered an improvement.