Phone apps

Twitterrific will tweet on the iPhone

Among the most anticipated iPhone apps to come down the App Store pipe will be Twitterrific, from the Iconfactory. The Mac client has garnered much praise (I gave it a rare five mice last year), and the mobility of the iPhone platform would seem to be an even more natural fit for the microblogging social networking service. Fortunately, the Iconfactory’s Chief Typist, Craig Hockenberry, has been hard at work on the application since even before the SDK was officially released. With all the time and detail put into the app, it’s little surprise that it nabbed an Apple Design Award for best iPhone social networking app earlier this week.

While much of Twitterrific’s underpinnings remain the same on the iPhone as on the Mac, the user interface is significantly different. And with good reason: the iPhone may run OS X, but most people don’t use the device the same way as they use the Mac. On the desktop, Twitterrific is more of a peripheral app: one that pops up while you’re working on other things, but primarily resides in the background. On the iPhone, however, it’s a foreground experience: when you’re checking your tweets, you’re not doing anything else. The design of the app takes all of that into account, and deals with it admirably.

Of course, there are also the usual different user interface constraints and choices related to the touchscreen interface. Craig’s designed Twitterrific with an eye towards efficiency and ease of use. Buttons lie in places where your thumb naturally falls, with the most frequently used buttons taking the least movement to reach. The main list view looks similar to the desktop client, showing a recent list of tweets from your friends, along with their names, icons, and the time of the tweet.

As with the desktop client, screennames and hyperlinks are tappable, allowing you to easily reply to a tweet or visit a link. Double-tapping a tweet shows you a bigger version of that tweet for easier reading, but still allows you to scroll up and down through your tweet list. A set of large buttons sit beneath the tweet for contextional actions you might want to take, like replying to it, favoriting it, viewing user info, etc.

Posting tweets is easy too: just hit a button and the iPhone’s onscreen keyboard pops up. Additional buttons on the bar above the keyboard let you take advantage of certain additional features: taking a picture with the camera and posting a link to it, for example, or adding your your current location. There’s also a button that toggles between replying to another tweet or sending a direct message to the currently selected person. There’s even an integrated mini-browser in the application for opening links from others’ tweets; it even immediately expands compressed URLs that use services like TinyURL.

Altogether, if Craig and the Iconfactory team have done anywhere near as good a job with the iPhone version of Twitterrific as they have with the desktop version—and it appears they have and then some—it’s likely to be one of the most highly-sought apps upon its release at the App Store launch.

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