NEW Update: TweetDeck 2.0 (Quick Comparison Review)

iPhone/iPod Touch
Version: 2.0
Tested on: iPod Touch 4G (iOS 4.3.2)
Rating: 4 of 5
TweetDeck - TweetDeck, Inc

Today TweetDeck releases a new version of their iPhone app, and withdraws the previous version at the same time. Yes, it's a bit weird. TweetDeck chooses not to go to the common update route, but uses this weird release/withdraw mechanism. As a result, if you try to update your TweetDeck app from your iTunes, it's going to say that it's updated already. You need to download the new version, 2.0., explicitly. If you have the TweetDeck app for iPad, then it's going to be a rare collection, because TweetDeck withdraws the iPad version, but has not submitted any replacement for it yet.

The result of this weirdness, we can actually compare both versions, the 1.x and 2.0 versions, head-to-head. In the above screenshot, can you guess, which one is the 2.0 logo? First of all, I want to highlight that if you've already had a TweetDeck account, the 2.0 version allows you to easily sign in to the app, without having to add your Twitter accounts, Facebook account, and other TweetDeck supported accounts, such as Foursquare. If you notice the sign in process for the 1.x version, it asks for your Twitter and Facebook account first before showing the option to sign in with your TweetDeck account. The new version has quite an improvement here, just one sign in process for the user (instead of three).

Upon signing in for the first time, I was greeted with the Home stream. This is surprising. It looks clean, like the official Twitter app. Also if you notice, your own tweets appear differently with your avatar showing on the right hand side, instead of the default left hand side. It seems that TweetDeck has ditched the multi-column default view from the 1.x version. If you use the 2.0 version for quite a while, you'll notice that Home stream is actually just one column which represents the default timeline stream from your Twitter accounts and Facebook feed. If you swipe it, there are two other default columns, i.e. the mentions column and the inbox column. The mentions column contains of all mentions feeds from all your Twitter accounts (if you have more than one) and your Facebook notifications, whereas the inbox column contains all direct messages from all your Twitter accounts. The mentions column is great, but I prefer the inbox approach used by the official Twitter app if you're managing more than one account.

Next up is the comparison of the tweet UI. The new UI seems to be cleaner, by removing least used buttons and allows the user to select the multiple accounts in a separate UI. I think this is a better approach, especially if you're managing more than three accounts at the same time. The new 2.0 version also support tweeting in landscape mode as already supported in the 1.x version.

We move on to viewing a tweet. This is one of the most frequently used feature of any Twitter client. The new 2.0 version again looks cleaner than the 1.x version. The UI is less cluttered with all the different buttons. These buttons, including the less frequently used ones are grouped together in an action sheet which can be triggered by clicking the Action button above the screen. 

If you notice the description of each profile you're following, the 2.0 version is using a more natural language approach, instead of the default statistics approach. This looks much better to the human eyes and serves better readability. 

One of the surprising thing for me is that you can also swipe through a Twitter profile to see additional info about that account. You can see their recent tweets, their favorite tweets, mentions, and feeds from their lists. This feature just makes it easier to know more about a particular account when compared to previous 1.x version or any other Twitter app. I believe this is a big feature that would allow people to be more involved in Twitter-verse and follow more accounts. If you notice a small statistics above the recent tweets column, TweetDeck shows the daily tweet frequency average of the account which is an important information before you decide to follow the new account.

Another great feature is the Facebook integration. It seems like the TweetDeck developer team really puts some thoughts and time into the Facebook integration features. Not only you get to see your Facebook feeds and notifications, you can actually browse through the photographs shared by your friends easily and make comments directly within the app. This again saves the user a lot of time if they just wanna make a small comment without having to spend more time to go inside the Facebook app.

Next up is another most commonly used feature of any Twitter client, i.e. opening a URL. The 2.0 version uses a default gray look-and-feel, ditching the dark theme of the previous 1.x version. Less clutter in the design of the tab bar allowing the user to focus more on the content and less distracted towards other stuffs.

Another thing I love about the new 2.0 version is the ability to display the attached image directly within the tweet. This is so intuitive, yet it's not being implemented by the previous 1.x version. I think that the picture is also intentionally designed to be shown on top of the tweet, which seems trivial but overlooked by most Twitter apps. 

Retweet is also another commonly used feature by all Twitter users. Thus, showing retweet needs to be designed in a more intuitive way as well. I think the new design by TweetDeck 2.0 is very good, especially if you compare it to the previous 1.x version.

One of the things I hate about using TweetDeck 1.x version is the hash tag browsing. I can't browse a new hash tag without adding a new column for it. Most of the times, I just want to know more about what the hash tag is without having to commit a new column for it. The new 2.0 version handles this very well by adding a new temporary column where the user can browse through the stream and decide to add it as a permanent column optionally later.

With all the different URL shortening services available now, we often see tweets containing different shortened links. TweetDeck seems to be working closely with URL shortening service which is attached with most Tweet buttons you see in most popular websites. The new 2.0 version automatically convert the URL into a longer URL which gives the user more information about the URL before deciding to open it. I have a strong belief that TweetDeck will work with more services to extend the coverage of this feature in the future updates.

Another simple UI/theme difference is noticeable when you open up a YouTube video link. The 2.0 version uses the gray theme, whereas the 1.x version uses the dark theme. 

One last thing that surprises me is the new translation feature. TweetDeck 2.0 version includes the translation feature which works great for various languages, even without asking the language it's translating from. Currently all tweets are translated to English, and from my testing it supports translating Indonesian and Japanese tweets very well. These are some screenshots that shows how Indonesian and Japanese tweets are translated. I don't speak Japanese, but I'm Indonesian, and I can say that the translation is quite accurate as long as the tweet doesn't contain any abbreviation or slang. This also saves me some time, because usually I have to open up the Google Translator website if I want to know what the Japanese are saying.

Overall, I think the application is a great update and makes it a worthy alternative to the official Twitter app, which is my current favorite. There is one problem I encounter while using it this morning. The 2.0 version supports swiping through your own profile to see your favorite, mention, direct messages and lists. Everything seems great unless you have more than 12 lists. I have about 20 lists and I can't get past through the 12th list without crashing. I've tried this multiple times but the problem stays the same. I hope this is fixed with the next update of the app.

Again, a great app. Definitely worth the new install (remember it's not an update to 1.x version - you'll have 'em both). I hope they release the 2.0 version that's optimized for the iPad too in the near future. Kudos to the TweetDeck developer team for their great app.

Check out my other iPhone app reviews here.