I can’t wait to see @alex crying tears of joy when Twitter finally releases a standalone Twitter DM app. This day hasn’t come yet, but it doesn’t mean that third-party developers aren’t already working on it. Meet Direct Messenger, an unofficial iOS messaging app for Twitter DM. This app packs a couple of nifty features, but also shows why we seriously need an official Twitter DM app.
Direct Messenger isn’t yet another Twitter client for iOS. It only does one thing — sending and receiving direct messages. When you open the app, you get a list of your last private conversations. The conversation screen is reminiscent of Facebook Messenger. Right above your keyboard, there are a few shortcuts to add other types of content to your messages.
You can send a photo, your location, stickers and voice recordings. All of this is great, but Twitter doesn’t support most of these message formats. For instance, when you send your location through Direct Messenger, the app takes a screenshot of your current location on a map, uploads it to Amazon S3 and sends a link to your recipient. It doesn’t look native at all for your recipients if they aren’t using Direct Messenger.
The same thing is true for stickers and even photos — Direct Messenger doesn’t support native photo attachments. If you are using Direct Messenger, the app will automatically change these Amazon S3 URLs into the actual content. But chances are most of your friends aren’t using Direct Messenger.
If you read a message in the official Twitter app, Direct Messenger doesn’t mark it as read. Finally, due to API limitations as well, Direct Messenger doesn’t support group DMs.
Other than that, the app works as expected. It’s a great way to access your messages much more quickly — it’s clean and well designed. In other words, Direct Messenger is a nifty little proof of concept. The developer had to work around current API restrictions and has done a great job to make it as seamless as possible. Twitter is responsible of the shortcomings listed above, not Direct Messenger.
For all these reasons, I can’t help but think that Twitter needs to work on a Twitter DM app. Many recent updates indicate a renewed commitment to direct messages, but there is no sign of a dedicated mobile app just yet. DMs don’t carry the 140-character limit anymore, you can make group conversations, send photos and videos, quote tweets and more.
If only Twitter could stop tweaking the colors of its main app and build a messaging app, that could be a great. Heavy Twitter users have only been waiting for this hypothetical app for years.