The new Twitter: Suggested improvements

Posted on December 13, 2011

The new Twitter application for iPhone changed a lot since the 3.0 predecessor. I already discussed what they did right and complained about some of the nagging issues. I'm going to talk about improvements the iPhone application could use (and hopefully the iPad, when the time comes).

Lists, lists, lists

Over two years ago, Twitter rolled out the ability to group users into logical "lists" to make large timelines more organized.

It's a great idea. I tried moving some of the people I follow into lists like "college friends", "Mac Apps", and "ExpressionEngine". I felt more organized. I don't follow many Twitter users, but it made me feel like I could and not worry about an out-of-control timeline.

So, what's wrong with lists?

I use the Mac and iOS Twitter applications almost exclusively. One problem is you can't curate (or even create) a list from any of these applications. To manage your lists with an official Twitter application, you must use the web interface.

Another gripe is Twitter buries list toggling too deeply. Take a look at the process to get to a test list that I set up:

Navigating lists in Twitter's iPhone application
Navigating lists in Twitter's iPhone application

Toggling a list goes three levels deep into the application. Wouldn't toggling these from the timeline be more useful (à la Tweetbot) ?

Swap lists in the Timeline view
Swap lists in the Timeline view

Bring back the "swipe for options"

Twitter also removed the ability to swipe over a tweet for more options. If you swiped over a tweet in 3.0, it revealed actions like "retweet", "reply", "favorite", and link options. My favorite part of this was swiping over a tweet, selecting link options, and saving a link within a tweet to Instapaper.

With the new design, the previous "slide for options" interface is still largely usable. Twitter could certainly integrate something similar back into the application for those of us who used it regularly.

A mockup of 'swipe for options' added back in
A mockup of ‘swipe for options' added back in

In conclusion…

I like the new Twitter application. Honestly, I do. There are some parts of the application that irk me and make me scratch my head, but some great features were added. Twitter will iron out the rough edges and refine the application as time goes on. And if they do not change everything, it is because their focus isn't the same as mine. There are a myriad of Twitter applications out there to serve different purposes.

Bottom line: There are a lot of people who love Twitter, and one app's shortcomings is another's pride and joy.