by Jamie Young
December 9, 2011
Twitter has been making some changes, as I’m sure most of you have noticed. Not only are they changing the way they do mobile, they’re changing the Web experience entirely, and they scooped up Tweetdeck for Mac and changed that too. Twitterland is ripe with chatter over these changes. Although most think the new Web interface is a step up, it seems most are up in arms over the new Twitter for iPhone. Twitter for iPhone For those that don’t already know Twitter for iPhone’s history, it used to be a quaint and amazing little app called Tweetie. This app was developed by atebits’s Loren Brichter in 2008 before finally being purchased by Twitter in 2010. Although he stayed on staff to help the continuous development of the app, Loren Brichter recently quit working for them. We at AppAdvice, and everyone else, can’t help but wonder if these changes are the reason he left. If Fake Grimlock uses Twitter for iPhone, it can’t be that bad, right? Wrong. It’s absolutely terrible, and here’s why. Twitter Isn’t Listening For quite some time there has been an outcry amongst Twitter users as to why they’re using other mobile clients (e.g., Tweetbot) instead of the native one. Well, I’ll tell you why we’re using other apps, Twitter: You don’t seem to be listening when we tell you why we’re using these apps and not yours. So, here’s the deal: They’re simplifying Twitter. They’re confining it to four spaces — Home, Connect, Discover, Me — and hoping we’ll forget about the good features that they’ve taken away. The new Twitter for iPhone removes key features like copy and paste, translate, and Quick Swipe, and expects its users to be okay with it. Yes, you heard me correctly. Quick Swipe is no more in the Twitter app. You can no longer swipe across a tweet to pull up options like reply, retweet, or favorite. Instead, you must tap the tweet and open it separately, then go from there. On top of that, there isn’t even a “Read Later” button directly on the tweet. You must spend time clicking and opening a link, in the browser, to be able to add the material to Instapaper or Read It Later. Are you kidding me? This is Twitter. We don’t have time for all of these taps. We want to see a link we like, save it instantly, and move on to sending more witty and snarky tweets. Another problem is that things are buried. Important things like lists and DMs must be accessed through the Me tab. Multiple taps just to read a DM is irritating. But wait! Swipe up on the Me tab and DMs will appear, swipe right and you can switch accounts. That’s right. Use gestures on this itsy bitsy button to make Twitter for iPhone work for you. Are you serious? That’s horrible! It’s not intuitive or user-friendly at all. My other qualm is the rounded design of the timeline and mentions. These rounded edges make you feel cut off from Twitterland; your tweets are no longer continuous, the conversations now seem disconnected as they’re encased in a box. Not to mention the line and margin width which Instapaper’s Marco Arment addressed. I have to admit, one thing I do like, though, is the Discover tab’s “Who to Follow.” You used to only be able to utilize this feature on the Web. Having this ability in a mobile app is definitely a plus — given you accept those that Twitter recommends — and will help people share people, which, after all, is the heart of Twitter. The Twitter For Your Parents? Although a lot of power users are upset at the changes, in retrospect they make sense. It makes sense to make Twitter a more inviting place by simplifying it — doesn’t it? They want more users. They want to reel in the people who have been afraid to try it because they “don’t see the point” or “it’s too confusing.” But instead, this new, simplified design acts like the rapist van, with no windows: the new kids want the candy the mustache man is offering, so they’ll just take it and get in, smiling like a fool. They don’t know any better, and they never will at this rate. It’s pure ignorance and I don’t mean that in a condescending way at all. I just mean that if they don’t know what Twitter can do for them, they won’t be able to push it to its limits, because Twitter is stifling their own interface. So, the new users are all completely content. So, now, it seems Twitter is ignoring their current, and long time, users. Therein lies their mistake. As a company grows and has its core consumers, they need to eventually spread out. You need to make changes and bring in new crowds, new people, new generations. But you never want to ignore your current customers. They are what made you; they are the foundation of your success. It seems Twitter is taking away functionality in favor of being simpler and more inviting. But guess what? The long time users aren’t going to want to use your app if you dumb it down and remove key features. Is bringing in X new users worth alienating and aggravating your current, faithful ones? How Does The New New Twitter Make You Feel? By reaching out to those that are Twi-curious, they’re bringing in new users who would otherwise be on Facebook whining about the changes there. I just hope Twitter doesn’t keep mimicking other social networks; Twitter is my sanctuary. I won’t just roll over or shrug it off. No, thanks. I’ll be sticking with Tweetbot and hoping that they come out with a Mac version soon. If Twitter eventually stops allowing third party clients. It’s over for us. I don’t even want to think about that. Are you flailing your arms wildy on Twitter due to these changes, or are you perfectly content with the simplicity?