Software

TweetDeck: Now in classic and Twitter flavors

More than a year after its acquisition by Twitter, popular social media management application TweetDeck has a whole new look. Twitter has rolled out a new version of TweetDeck that sports a more flexible layout and the option for a brighter new design.

TweetDeck 2.0.2 remains available both as a desktop app, which can be downloaded to Windows and Mac computers, and as a Web-based app, which runs in Apple Safari, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox browsers. The Chrome app, Web-based versions, and desktop versions look nearly identical, and they sync seamlessly, so you can switch back and forth between them without losing your settings or the information you enter.

Stay in the dark, or step into the light (design)

Both the Windows and Mac desktop versions, the Chrome Web app, and the Safari and Firefox Web-based counterparts sport TweetDeck's new look. When you launch the application in any of these versions, you'll initially see TweetDeck's longstanding dark-gray design, but a new button has been added to the top of the application. It says "Dark" when you're using the gray interface; clicking it toggles the button to "Light" and reveals the new TweetDeck look.

TweetDeck's interface has gotten a Twitter-like redesign, with light, bright colors—but if you long for the old, darker look, you'll find it easy to access.

If you've changed your setting to Light in any of the versions, you'll see that change reflected wherever you sign in to TweetDeck, whether that's on the desktop or online. The Chrome app looks exactly like the desktop app—so much so that I couldn't immediately tell which one I was using.

That new look will be familiar, as it employs the same white-and-blue color scheme found on Twitter.com. I've always found TweetDeck's gray design a tad too dark, so I like the ability to switch things up. Anyone who's ever strained their eyes to read TweetDeck's text will like the new ability to change the text size, too, though doing so isn't quite as accessible: You need to dig through the settings menu to tweak the font size.

TweetDeck builds out columns

More useful to me is TweetDeck's expanded and customizable column design. Past versions of the application defaulted to a display of three columns; while you could add more, doing so wasn't a quick and easy fix. The new TweetDeck displays eight columns by default, which I found a bit much, but it was easy enough to delete a column by clicking on its heading and selecting the "Delete" option.

TweetDeck 2.0.2's Column Navigator, shown here in the Chrome version, puts a great deal of information at your fingertips.

What's more impressive is the new Column Navigator, which sits at the top of the screen and makes customizing the layout quick and easy. If you want to add more columns, a click of the column navigator lets you do so. This navigator also lets you skip between columns without scrolling, which is a nice touch if you want to keep your TweetDeck populated with lots of info.

TweetDeck retains the impressive feature set that has long made it a favorite of power Twitter users. While it still doesn't offer any true Twitter analytics, TweetDeck does let  you manage an unlimited number of Twitter accounts—though it still limits you to one Facebook account, unfortunately. It also lets you schedule tweets and Facebook updates for future posting, and makes it easy to post an update to single or multiple accounts at once.

One noticeable bug in the current version of TweetDeck: It stumbles when attempting to post tweets with photos. When I tried to schedule a Tweet with a photo, the text appeared on time, but no photo was attached. A Twitter spokesperson says the "the current version of TweetDeck is not able to schedule Tweets with photos," but did not say when this feature would be working.

New options improve usability

That flaw aside, the latest update to TweetDeck is an impressive one. The new look is easy on the eyes, and anyone who likes the old, darker design can hang onto it. I like TweetDeck's added customization features and, especially, the ability to view more columns of information at once. With its comprehensive set of Twitter management tools, TweetDeck remains the Twitter dashboard to beat.

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