Twitter For Mac: Stripped Down And Meh

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The Mac App Store just launched this morning (it is a separate app store from what’s in iTunes that comes with the latest update to Mac OS X), and already the top free app is Twitter for Mac. I just installed it and started to play around with it. My first impression is meh.

Twitter for Mac is a stripped down version of the excellent Twitter for iPad app. Imagine if you took just the left-hand stream column in the Twitter for iPad app and launched that as a widget on your desktop. It feels like a half-hearted attempt to me. I’ll give it this: it is very fast, and it stays out of the way. But it is jarring because it doesn’t operate the same way that Twitter for iPad, or even Twitter.com operates. When you click on a Tweet with a link, it doesn’t expand into a second pane with the page opened underneath like the iPad app does. Instead it launches a new tab in your browser. That is a recipe for tab overload. Also, the only indication of when a Tweet is in reply to another Tweet is a too-subtle conversation balloon which appears when you hover over the Tweet. Finding the conversation view is not completely obvious. You have to doubleclick the Tweet or click on the conversation bubble. Hitting the right arrow key also works.

Other complaints: There is no Tweet box. In order to Tweet, you have to go to the menu and select New Tweet or Direct Message. There is also a keyboard command. At least on the iPAd app there is a new message icon in the lower left-hand corner, and in Twitter.com there is a nice big “what’s happening?” box. Tweeting should be a one-step process not a two step process. Another annoyance is that you can’t click on a person’s name to see their profile or Tweet stream. It took me a while to figure out that you have to double-click on their avatar picture instead to get their stream to show up. Again, little inconsistencies like these actually slow you down if you are used to the way Twitter works everywhere else.

The rest of the app is fine. You can see your stream, mentions, direct messages, lists, profile, and search. You can reply to individual Tweets, favorite them or Retweet them. And that’s about it. Maybe that is all you need. But when you have the full capabilities of your desktop computer, scrimping on features doesn’t make much sense. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the richer features of Twitter on the Web and on the iPad. I think I’ll stick with those for now.

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