For the uninitiated Tweetie is a Twitter client for the Mac that looks like it may have come from the house of Jobs! There has been a ton of hype about the app. The more I think about it, I realize that it’s addictiveness stems from the notifications mechanism that Tweetie alone possesses (correct me if I’m wrong). It’s also something they could improve immensely.
Let me explain. As much as I LOVE Twitter I find it unmanageable because of the real-time stream of tweets that keep moving on without my ability to differentiate between what I’ve read and what I’ve not. The worst part of any Twitter app or Twitter itself is that there’s no notification mechanism to let you know that you’ve received a NEW response or a direct message unless you drilled through the different tabs. Nor is there a way to identify which tweets I’ve read just by looking at my “All Friends” stream of tweets.
But, Tweetie solves that by visually notifying me when there are new tweets or replies/mentions or direct messages with a blue circle adjacent to that tab. Not only that the scroll-bar stays at the last tweet I read.
This reminds me of the red notification icon on the Facebook toolbar (one of the main reasons I preferred FB to twitter – notice how I used the past tense – more on that later).
Tweetie also has a neat little visual notification box on the OS bar (see below) which turns blue when there are any new tweets for me to check out. I’d actually love it if there was a way to set my preferences so that it turns blue only when I have new replies/mentions or direct messages (quick update: I found out that’s possible. Go to Preferences -> Advanced -> Highlight Status Icon) and that way allowing it to grab my attention only with higher priority items. Showing the # of replies or DMs would be great too (see FB notification in red above).
The other reason I love Tweetie is because it allows me to manage multiple Twitter accounts (the other account being the Twitter LinkedIn channel that I manage as well). The best part is it allows me to cross post or retweet between the two channels. So if I find an interesting tweet from a colleague (on my @mariosundar account) that I’d like to broadcast on our LinkedIn channel, then I can cross-post it from where I am. Sweet!
As promised, here’s an interesting look into the design of the app, featuring a quote from the creator of the app (Loren Brichter), where he muses on the radical new design that has earned a few skeptics (not me):
How did you approach designing Tweetie for the Mac? It almost looks like a radical departure from the standard Mac app.
Radical, yet not. It’s an evolution of UI concepts, many borrowed and extended from the iPhone. It fits in as a Mac app, looks and feels like one, but the navigation and functionality is next-generation. The drill-down is inspired by iPhone, it was important to be able to make it easy to delve into tons of information without requiring the app to sprawl across your entire monitor.
The sidebar was particularly interesting to design. I needed a UI that worked well with exactly one account but also scaled to many accounts. Old school Mac implementations might have had a double set of tabs, or a Mail-style sidebar, or a tab bar with an account dropdown box. All of these are flawed. Some take up too much screen real estate, some aren’t good enough at providing at-a-glance badge notifications on a per-account-subsection basis. The sidebar design in Tweetie for Mac solves these problems in an extremely elegant and scalable way. It’s new and different, which is hard for some people to swallow, but somebody needs to push the envelope and try new things or we’re all going to rot in UI hell.
Read the rest of the interview here.