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Push 2.0

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Last week we launched a major upgrade to our push notification server. We had added some tweaks and minor enhancements to our server previously, but otherwise, the code was pretty similar to our original proof-of-concept.  And that implementation held up pretty well for us — until recently. Our aim was to consistently poll Twitter for updates every 3 minutes which meant push notifications were delayed roughly a minute and a half on average. When everything was running smoothly, we were able to do just that, but we struggled with consistency.

Those days are behind us. With some thoughtful improvements, our early tests indicate that our push server is now more than 13 times more efficient than the previous version. And, there are still more optimizations we can make. Additionally, while our push server hardware is respectable, there’s a lot of room to upgrade.

The performance improvements aren’t the whole story, however. Twitter is doing its part to make timely notifications possible. As much as computing resources are a consideration for determining a polling frequency, so is Twitter’s quota on updates for 3rd party applications. When we started development on Twitbit that quota was 100 updates per hour. If we query your account for both DMs and mentions, that’s 100 updates per hour / 2 updates per query / 60 min. per hour = 1 query every minute and 12 seconds. And of course we didn’t want to consume your entire quota just to support notifications. Today, Twitter allows 350 updates per hour and they’ve announced that the limit will eventually be 1500! That means Twitter quotas are becoming less relevant and we can start to query for updates as often as our computing resources will allow.

Bottom line?

Reliability: Our server has been cruising without so much as a hiccup since the upgrade.

Promptness: Messages are currently being delivered in less than a minute and are taking mere seconds on average.

We don’t want to make any promises yet, but suffice it to say that we’re still in the process of pushing the delay time down — not letting it creep back up. Look for even more improvements in the coming days. Don’t take our word for it either, test it out and let us know what kind of delays you’re seeing. Send your results to @twitbitapp. We appreciate your patience while we worked through this growing pain. Thanks!

Written by kurthd

February 24th, 2010 at 11:35 am

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Twitbit 2.6 Now Available

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Today Apple approved Twitbit 2.6. It includes these changes:

  • When adding users to contacts, the Twitter field now opens the user directly in Twitbit when tapped.
  • A brief sound is now played when posting a tweet.
  • Fixed a crash when either the user’s timeline, mentions, or search results are empty.
  • Fixed a bug where the “highlight new” setting was not working correctly.

You can read more about it on our release notes page.

Get it from the App Store now!

Written by jad

February 4th, 2010 at 10:39 pm

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Twitbit 2.5

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Twitbit 2.5 was submitted to Apple yesterday! Our previous two or three submissions were accepted much faster than they had been historically, so we expect that you’ll have it in your hands soon (maybe early next week?).  We’ve deviated from our tendency to introduce BIG changes in this release, but we are nonetheless excited, as 2.5 addresses two of our most common requests: configurable push notification sounds and saved timeline scroll position.

There are now 5 push notification sounds available in addition to the default. This feature is great for distinguishing Twitter messages from text messages and other notifications. Sounds are set per account so you can identify which account received a message before you even look at your phone.

As for the timeline, one design goal we’ve had is make the timeline in Twitbit simple and deterministic. For that reason, we’ve been reluctant to tackle things like read and unread tweets, syncing and tracking your timeline position. We also appreciate the value of being able to close the app without losing your place in a batch of tweets. Twitbit 2.5 doesn’t make the timeline complicated but it should make you a little less gun-shy with the home button. Specifically, we made two changes to timeline behavior. One, and this is independent of scroll position persistence, when new tweets are fetched and the tweet you’re currently viewing is still displayed, there’s no jarring change in the scroll position. Second, provided you’re scrolled somewhere within the first page of tweets, we will persist your exact scroll position. We think the new behavior strikes a good balance between simplicity, avoiding sudden display changes, and coping with interrupted timeline browsing.

Twitbit 2.5 also has a number small enhancements, UI refinements and bug fixes. Another more notable feature is an index on the person selection view. We’ll have release notes up soon! Stay tuned for the release notice and information about Twitbit 2.6!

Written by kurthd

January 22nd, 2010 at 10:42 am

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Twitbit 2.4 Now Available

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Twitbit 2.4 is a bug fix release. To borrow from the release notes, it contains the following fixes:

  • Fixed a crash when Twitbit receives an error message from Twitter. This could be caused by sending a DM to a user that does not follow you, exceeding your API rate limit, trying to view a user whose tweets are protected, etc.
  • Fixed various issues with sending and receiving geotags and user locations.
  • Fixed a “request timed out” error that would sometimes occur when uploading photos or videos.
  • Twitbit Lite only: fixed a bug where a tweet posted from the app would occasionally not display correctly in the timeline.

In addition to these bug fixes, Twitbit 2.4 adds the following feature:

  • Added support for the “shake to refresh” gesture for updating the timeline.

A modest release for us by historical standards, but we wanted to get some of those bug fixes out ASAP. Enjoy!

Written by jad

January 7th, 2010 at 2:21 pm

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Twitbit 2.3 Now Available

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It was just earlier today that I posted a Twitbit 2.3 preview, where I covered new features like lists, geo-tagging, retweets and more. I also promised to go into the full list of new features once the update was released. Well, you’ve waited long enough. Twitbit 2.3 was released earlier today — both in the paid and lite varieties.

Before I get into features, allow me to introduce Twitbit’s new tabs:


I know. I went on and on in a previous blog post about how having only 5 tabs was such a great achievement. And it was a good achievement — but not one that came without compromises. The accounts tab always kind of sucked. And combining your timeline and mentions onto a single tab had its downsides. The functionality added in this release combined with those considerations finally necessitated that we break the 5 tab barrier. So how do you manage and change accounts? Screenshots:



We think the new structure is as powerful and intuitive as ever. In addition to being better-structured, Twitbit 2.3 is packed with all kinds of small interface refinements and performance improvements. They really do add up.

On to some new features. First, trend explanations. Not only have trends been moved to their own tab so they are easier to access, but they now are accompanied by full explanations courtesy of Let’s Be Trends. Scroll through a list of trends with truncated explanations or tap into to see the full explanation and check out what people are saying.


Next up: person search. Twitter has made a ton of great progress recently exposing more functions to developers (and it looks like that trend will continue). The latest example of this in Twitbit is full person search — just like you get from Twitter. Instead of only being able to lookup a user directly by their username, you can now search by first and last name and get a list of matching results!


And that’s not all! The user view now notes whether someone is following you and let’s you add users to your address book. Here are some more screenshots of that view and some others:





All of these improvements are in both the paid and lite versions of Twitbit (except for those that are push-spectific), so check it out for free here. Or you can find more detailed release notes on our website. As always, we’d love some feedback. Enjoy the update!

Written by kurthd

December 23rd, 2009 at 4:21 pm

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A Sneak Peek at Twitbit 2.3

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Finally, Twitbit 2.3 was submitted to Apple over the weekend, and wow, are we excited to tell you about it. We initially hoped to release a quick 2.2 follow-up with Twitter list support, but decided we couldn’t stop there. So, after a longer than usual wait from us, the result is a great update. We want to save a few surprises for launch-day, but here’s something to whet your appetite:

First, new Twitter features: lists, geo-tagged tweets and retweets are all supported. Your lists and list subscriptions are always a tap away, along with subscription and following numbers. Native Twitter retweets are a one-tap operation and old-style retweets are still there when you need them. Retweets are clearly marked in your timeline and the retweeter is clearly identified.


Retweets and lists are cool, but the really exciting feature for me personally is geo-tagging. We put a lot of thought into the implementation, until we had a feature that’s not only easy to use — but fun to use, too. I won’t get into the details now, but here are a few screenshots to give you the idea:



Aside from supporting new Twitter features, we added some nice features of our own. There are three in particular that I want to highlight: photo previews, timeline search and improved persistence. A picture is worth many words:



We’ve always attempted to strike a balance between leaving you where you left off when you open the app, and immediately taking you to the latest, fresh info. Well, there were a couple key scenarios absent from the former category. Namely, if you’re viewing a tweet, direct message or website when you close the app, we’ll make sure to put your right back there when you re-open it. If you’re in the middle of composing a tweet or direct message, you’ll be reminded the next time you start the app.

Related to where you should land when you start the app is a new feature that takes advantage of built-in push notifications. It seems like a long time coming, but when you view a notification, you’ll be taken directly to that message. Immediately send your reply, retweet, view a link, whatever.

We have some other exciting features to announce, but I’ll save those for the launch. In the meantime we’ll be posting more screenshots from @twitbitapp. Stay tuned!

Written by kurthd

December 23rd, 2009 at 9:09 am

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Twitbit Deuce Deuce

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All we blog about these days are Twitbit releases, and I know, that’s lame. The good news for you is that we take all that time we would have spent blogging and we use it to make Twitbit a better Twitter client. Here’s a glimpse of what you get with 2.2:

  • Updated compose view, including a person selector and link shortening
  • A dark theme option
  • New mention badge on the home tab
  • Mentions and DMs update when you start the app
  • Smoother timeline scrolling





For more info, check out the 2.2 release notes.

Twitbit Lite is lagging a little and hasn’t yet been approved, but should be on the App Store any day now. All of these features are included in Twitbit Lite, so you’ll be able to try before you buy. Or you can just buy it now for only $2.99 and get push notifications!

Okay, time for me to get back to work on the finishing touches of Twitbit 2.3.  We hope you enjoy the update.

Written by kurthd

November 15th, 2009 at 9:38 am

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Twitbit Lite 2.1 Available Now

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Twitbit Lite 2.1 is now available on the App Store! While Twitbit 2.1 was approved back on October 18, Apple took a bit longer to approve the free version. The new features in this version are the same as in Twitbit, and 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, or just download it for free now!

Written by jad

November 1st, 2009 at 5:33 pm

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Twitbit 2.1 Available Now

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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!

Written by jad

October 18th, 2009 at 9:50 am

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Twice as Good as Twitbit 1

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twitbit-iconThe 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?

New Look

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

  • Retweet format

  • Image compression

  • 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.


There’s more.

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.

Happy tweeting!

Download Twitbit Lite

Buy Twitbit “Pro”

Twitbit website: http://twitbitapp.com

Written by kurthd

October 9th, 2009 at 3:54 pm

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