Archive for October, 2009
Twitbit 2.1 is now available on the App Store! Features include:
- Complete support for landscape mode throughout the app.
- Support for viewing the next or previous tweet right from the tweet view, just like in Mail.
- Support for displaying maps for tweets that include geo data using Twitter’s new geolocation API.
- Bug fixes, including a fix for a bug that would occasionally cause the timeline to display tweets older than the most recent.
You can read more on our release notes page.
Twitbit is on sale for $2.99 for a limited time. Get it now!
The newest version of Twitbit that is, which is why we’re calling it Twitbit 2. I’ll get to some feature highlights in a moment, but first the basics. Twitbit is now available as a free download, called Twitbit Lite, and it has almost all of the features included in the paid version. The most notable difference between the lite and paid versions are the paid version supports push notifications. It also has a short list of other features we deemed “premium”. Actually, I think the only feature that currently includes is Flickr integration. So, if you’d rather skip the rest of this overview and just see it for yourself, I won’t blame you.
Twitbit is on sale! The paid version of Twitbit will be temporarily available for $2.99! Again, that gets you push notifications, Flickr integration, and future premium features (and more are coming). We also plan to add ads to the free version at some point, and the paid version won’t include those. We’re not sure how long the sale will last, but we’ll give you at least a week from the time this is posted to grab it. But why wait? Get it now!
Why the free version? In short, we think you should be able to try software before you buy it. Even if an app is only a few bucks, we want our customers to be satisfied with their purchase. There’s a lot of crap out there, and how are you to know what’s what?
Okay, You Really Want to Read About Features, Huh?
Where Twitbit 1 got the job done, Twitbit 2 does it with style. Every view was re-evaluated. Thoroughly. And most were overhauled. There’s more color, everything scrolls (like it should), unused space is minimized, control elements are more standard, and subtle white lines are everywhere. Just look at the new tweet view:
I’m embarrassed for our previous tweet view. There’s a new user view, too:
If you’re already a Twitbit user, you might have noticed some missing tabs. Don’t worry, I assure you we haven’t removed any features. I talk about that decision in a previous blog post. Want to view your profile, for example? It’s a built-in bookmark:
Oh yeah. You can bookmark people.
And as you can see above, we have a new, compliant icon, designed by Kevin from icondesign (he did our button glyphs, too). Feature.
When you view a reply in Twitbit 2, you get the full conversation. Very high-order:
We love us some integration. The complete list of photo and video (new) services is now Flickr (!)(paid version only), Twitpic, Twitvid and Yfrog. You can shorten links with Bit.ly and mark links for later reading with Instapaper. All of these services can be configured simultaneously and switching between them is a snap. They’re also configured per account, not globally, which is nice.
We realized uploading a video over the power of the edge network kind of sucks, so we added a progress bar and the ability to cancel:
Twitbit 2 is geo-enabled. Location fields include map thumbnails and you can view a location on a map without leaving the app. View a location relative to your own, get the street address from a coordinate, and search for nearby tweets or mentions of the location. Don’t worry, you can still quickly jump to Maps if you need directions.
We like to improve the performance with each release and as you’d expect Twitbit 2 makes a big jump in that respect. Scrolling is smooth and the app loads fast. Performance is one of those things we’re never satisfied with, however, and something we value immensely. Look for future versions to continue the positive trend.
We’ve read your emails, tweets and letters. Okay, there were no letters — but we would have read them and probably mailed a response. We get it. Everyone uses Twitter a little differently. Some of you only follow celebrity gossip. Some of you only tweet what you also write on your blog. Some people get 1 new tweet an hour in their timeline and some people get 1,000. And some of you only use Twitter to promote your adult website.
We also try really hard to avoid too much configuration. If possible, we ponder how something should work, so you don’t have to. Well, we’ve reached a compromise. You can now configure:
Whether to display full names or usernames
How many tweets to fetch in your timeline
Whether new tweets should be highlighted
Where to scroll when new tweets are fetched
Whether to shorten links
The nearby search radius
Push notification behavior
Okay, we didn’t really add any configuration to help promote your adult website.
We added tons of little stuff. You can block and unblock users, delete tweets, search hash links, quickly search for user mentions and search nearby tweets. Persistence is a little more thorough. Search terms are remembered. Bookmark people and content searches (recent searches are automatically tracked). Seriously: just download the app! It’s FREE!
Twitbit 1.1 stuff is still there
Twitbit 1.1 had a healthy set of features to begin with. Of course it has push notifications. It also supports everything you’d expect like viewing your timeline, mentions and direct messages, multiple accounts, and search.
We’re not done yet
Twitibt 2.1 is already waiting on the wings. But it’s following 2.0, so relatively minor, right? Not so minor. A couple solid features are coming: full landscape support and the ability to iterate through your timeline from the tweet view.
Those Twitter API updates for native retweet and geotag support? Yeah, we know about them and support is coming.
We have a few other significant, imminent features on our road map, so stay tuned. In the mean time, we’re still listening and still working. If you contact us with a suggestion, we might disagree with you, but we will read it. Every suggestion is considered.
Twitbit website: http://twitbitapp.com
When we released Twitbit 1.1 we felt like the majority of work was behind us. Sure, we still had some sizable features to implement, but the framework was done. The major pieces were in place. The style was solidified. We spent a couple days away from the code base after the release and returned to discover our sentimental attachment to it faded. We sat down to code with fresh perspectives and what started as a 1.2 became a 2.0.
We fall into a useful state of denial during a release phase. We rationalize away problems with our design and conclude the code couldn’t possibly be any better. That’s useful for the purpose of getting something out the door. But once it’s out, and once we’ve had some time to recover from a frantic development cycle, our self-evaluation becomes a little more sober.
In the case of Twitbit 1.1, we really had a problem with the ‘More’ tab. That is, we had 7 functional tabs, but the last three were tucked under an organizational tab called ‘More’. It just didn’t feel right. We deliberated long and hard about whether to even use tabs — and we’re comfortable with that decision — but are the functions of Twitter so diverse as to justify more than 5 tabs? After all, much of the appeal of Twitter is its simplicity. It wasn’t so much a matter of concrete problems with 5+ tabs, but that it indicated a degree of laziness on our part. It felt bloated; like the UI was too big for the feature set. There was a mentality of “new function, new tab”. Simple solutions are usually best, and our solutions were definitely that. But in this case that reasoning felt like an excuse.
We swallowed our pride and set out to get our app back to 5 tabs. We were open to every possibility, no matter how much work it entailed. You’ll have to wait for Twitbit 2.0 to see exactly how we did it, but we did do it. 5 tabs. I’ll give you a hint: some of the common tricks in our toolbox were persistence, shortcuts and generally considering how other apps solved similar problems elegantly.
The interesting part has nothing to do with 5 being a magic number, but what we observed during this exercise of reduction. The natural assumption is that you’d have to make sacrifices in the UI to support more functionality. Turns out, the opposite can also happen. We learned that there’s an optimal UI density — and it’s possible to be both too dense, but also too sparse. I’m reminded of that saying, “Sorry this letter is so long. I didn’t have time to make it shorter.”.
The result is a UI that feels a lot more powerful and intuitive. Patterns emerge and the app feels more familiar. Where we expected the user to choose tabs before based on arbitrary distinctions, there are now fewer choices. The UI feels more like a helpful guide than it had previously. The tradeoff, in some cases, is the number of taps to get you to your destination. In such cases, elegant shortcuts can help and even make the app feel more familiar and reduce taps.
I’m really pleased we overcame our state of denial. And I think Twitbit users will be, too.