The break-up with Twitter web: It’s not me, it’s you
Two months after I threw my hands up in despair and finally decided to move from Twitter.com to a third-party Twitter client (incidentally, I love Tweetie for Mac) Twitter announced and revealed a total makeover that completely changes the interface and introduces a clutch of new, useful features all of which promise to make for a “faster, easier and richer” Twitter experience. But will this makeover solve all the issues that had previously caused me to break up with Twitter web? I’m not entirely sure, but I do know that I would definitely would be willing to give Twitter.com another chance to become my number one tweetheart again.
I am extremely loyal once I’ve found a service I like and I liked Twitter web right from the first date – and so I sat back and said nothing in the early days, whilst many flocked to Tweetdeck and Hootsuite and other third party apps – I said nothing and stayed put on Twitter.com because got everything I needed and wanted directly from the web app. A basic timeline consisting of myself, and those I follow. The ability to send and receive direct messages and the ability to view other users’ profiles, when I chose to do so. Then other features slowly started creeping into the interface; features like pop-up mini-profiles and trending topics by location and the ability to create Twitter Lists. (Sidenote: For the record I still don’t really get lists)
The final straw for me was the little box that appeared overnight, just under my tweet count. That box told me who I should be following and the fact that the faces appearing inside that box were all faces I’d unfollowed for some reason or another, infuriated me. As did the lack of an opt-out for that feature. Tweetie for Mac gave me everything I needed thereafter – a simple timeline, the follow/unfollow option, direct messaging and the ability to follow a specific conversation. I could upload pictures and videos and shorten links directly in the application. It was love at first sight for me and Tweetie for Mac.
Two months of happy usage and I didn’t miss Twitter web in the least. That is, until I woke up this morning, and noticed the #newtwitter trending topic. Twitter is getting a makeover. Let’s take a look at what’s been promised, and what’s still lacking.
Twitter wants to lure old lovers back: what you can look forward to
1. Twitter just became two-faced:
Twitter has added that functionality that most third-party app users crave – another column and easier access to information. You’ll recognise what you see on the left, as this is where your usual stream appears, and you’ll also see the @mentions and retweets as you normally would. The right-hand side will be the display area for information like your followers, who you’re following back, your favourited tweets, lists you follow and trending topics and follow suggestions. I’ll be a little disappointed if there’s no opt-out feature for the “who to follow” section. Although I understand the rationale behind the who to follow functionality, I’d still like to be able to choose not to have it.
Overall, It looks like a much cleaner interface with the potential to be better organised. The clutter that is the old Twitter web, seems to be much more aesthetically and functionally arranged and it seems that lists and trends are easier to view, right there, and that they require less scrolling and clicking through menus to access, which will make a pleasant change.
2. Media now comes embedded:
In days gone by, if you clicked on a TwitPic or TweetPhoto, the link would redirect you to that external site, which was a hassle, as it removed you from what you were doing. Clicking on a photo link in the new Twitter, however, will open up the photo in the right pane, without actually leaving Twitter.com to open a new tab. What’s more is you’ll see the other information you’re used to seeing on the external site, like as other tweets that have linked to or commented on that same image. Not only will photos be embedded, but videos will too. So if you click on a a tweet that has a YouTube video link, you’ll no longer be directed to Youtube, and you’ll be able to watch the video without moving from Twitter.com.
It’s also been said that Twitter has done deals with 16 media providers, including YouTube, TwitPic, Etsy and Flickr. What this means is that tweeting a link to someone’s Flickr images, will pull up that image, and the same goes for tweets containing Etsy links. No longer will content creators have to rely on 140 characters to entice a person to view their content, but they’ll be able to add some visual spice to the lure as well. And seriously. Just imagine – this is window-shopping on a whole new level, and definitely something to excite the serial shoppers among us.
3. Infinite scrolling: it just never ends
The old “More” button that you clicked on, if you wanted to swim backwards in the Twitter stream will soon be gone. Taking its place is an infinite scroll functionality and you’ll be able to scroll through older tweets continuously, without having to manually select “more”.
4. Twitter gives clicking the finger: Smart keyboard shortcuts
All of the convenience, right there at your fingertips. Less mousing + less clicking = less hassle.
5. Twitter is perkier: attention to detail is everything
With the new Twitter web, you’ll also be getting -
- The ability to see real names: next to their @names, so you’ll know the actual name behind the avatar.
- More than one way to tweet: no longer will you have to scroll back up to the top to tweet using the “what’s happening?” box. Rather, you could use the pen & paper icon to activate an overlay box.
- Flickr set support: now users can actually share a link to an entire set of Flickr pics and a little row of thumbnails will pop up in the right pane, with a slideshow at the bottom.
- No more NSFW surprises: Warning shows before offensive content.
- Easier access to related information: easier to expand tweets and reach into relevant content with improved search and hashtag integration.
- More search options: “tweets with links” or “tweets near you” make it easier to find products, services and locations, both online and in the real world.
Most importantly: Twitter promises stability
The new Twitter web is said to be more responsive, much quicker and this is attributed to a more stable architecture. The new website is based on the API (the same thing that third party apps run off) and apparently there will be an end to API limits as well. This, along with the fact that Twitter.com is built in the @anywhere platform should mean that the Fail Whale will (hopefully) be a lot more scarce ’round these parts.
Work In Progress: it’s not perfect, but it’s a start
What we’re still not getting from Twitter web:
- Support for multiple accounts: without this, people will still have reason to use a third-party app.
- Threaded tweet conversations: the ability to track a Twitter conversation and link them all up for you to read easily, is on Twitter web, only a single tweet deep.
As for whether the new Twitter package will be enough for me to renounce Tweetie for Mac and return to my former lover, Twitter web – only time, and the eventual rollout of the new format to my browser, will tell. In the mean time, I’m keeping one eye on Tweetie for Mac to see what’s happening in the rest of my Twitter world, and one eye on Twitter web, just to see if it’s happened yet.
If you’d prefer to be notified when the upgrade takes place, and thereby suck every minute of enjoyment out of the time left with your third party app, before you switch back – you can sign up to Am I Upgraded Yet?. It’s an app that will DM you from your own account, once you’ve received the Twitter upgrade, so you wont miss it.
And while you’re waiting, I suggest (if you haven’t already watched it a million times) that you watch the “Meet the new Twitter.com” video.
So. What are your thoughts on the new Twitter.com?
Have you got it yet?