If you use Twitter frequently on your smartphone, there’s a good chance you use a native Twitter client. Between apps like Tweetie on the iPhone, Twidroid on Android, and Seesmic on Blackberry, there’s no shortage of quality apps that put advanced features at your fingertips. But, according to a post that just went live on the Twitter blog, there are still plenty of people who navigate to m.twitter.com, the Twitter mobile site that’s about as spartan as they come. Tonight, Twitter is showing off a preview of the new mobile site it’s working on, housed at mobile.twitter.com. And it’s a big improvement.
There are quite a few obvious changes in the new version. First and foremost, you’ll notice that it looks quite a bit nicer than the old site, with more color and a much improved layout. You’ll also see that everything more closely mirrors the desktop version of the Twitter.com homepage.
As with the desktop version, you’ll be shown Twitter’s real-time search engine when you first visit the site. More importantly, the new client includes all of the basic features that every Twitter client has had for years, but the old mobile page lacks. These include the ability to see @replies (mentions), favorited tweets, and direct messages. All of these were missing in the old version, but you’ll find them in a menu at the top in the new one. Some features, like recently-launched lists are still missing, though.
Other improvements include the addition of user profile pictures next to their tweets (you can turn these off if you’re on a slow connection), and a brief list of trending topics at the very bottom of the page.
Twitter’s blog post also notes that this was built using Twitter’s own APIs — in other words, it’s “eating its own dogfood” with the new mobile site (that’s what the title Takeout Dogfood on Twitter’s blog refers to). From the post:
‘M’ should also be fantastically innovative — naturally the best way to do that is use our own APIs. So, the mobile team here built a brand new mobile web client from scratch, using only Twitter APIs, and we’d like to share the results with you.
The Twitter blog post says that this works best on Webkit browsers, which are found on Android, the iphone, Nokia S60, and Palm OS. It’ll still work on other platforms, but the Twitter team hasn’t fine tuned it yet.
For comparison’s sake, here’s a shot of the old version (left) next to the new mobile site: