Twitter's long-neglected Mac app gets a big refresh

Inline video and animated GIFs, group message support, and a completely overhauled interface highlight the update.

Twitter App Screenshot
Credit: Ed Oswald

Twitter made good on its promise to deliver a brand-new Mac app on Wednesday, debuting a completely redesigned app that finally brings the desktop client in line with its web and mobile app counterparts.

Support for features that have become a staple of modern Twitter usage, such as inline video and animated GIFs, finally work, and the app no longer clashes with the design aesthetic of Mac OS X Yosemite and El Capitan. There is also support for a Notification Center widget, something previous versions lacked.

Users can opt for either the default Twitter color scheme or a new “dark mode,” which matches well with the dark theme first introduced in Yosemite. Other changes include group messaging support, the ability to mute specific accounts, and compatibility with Twitter’s new quote style for retweets.

Twitter Mac App Twitter

Twitter's new dark mode looks good in El Capitan.

There are some things missing, including the capability to use Twitter’s new poll feature. The app much more responsive overall, but I did run into some minor bugs including notifications appearing more than once. Despite the issues, the difference is truly night and day compared to previous versions.

A long time coming

If you’re noticing that much of Twitter 4.0 (as it’s being called) isn’t actually new, you’re correct. Twitter’s Mac app has languished since its debut in 2011, and at times seemed completely forgotten. It took two years for the company to release an initial update, and there have been just two additional updates since.

Even with the updates many of the features that Twitter lauded as important never made it to the Mac client. Our own Jason Snell talked about the company’s lack of focus on the Mac, going so far as to suggest development of the app be turned over “to competent Mac developers and stepping out of the way.”

That may be the case. While Twitter made a good deal of hay out of the release of a new Twitter app at its own developer conference, there is some suggestion that Twitter might be handing the reins to someone else. TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez says sources told her that this most recent update to Twitter was built by a third party, although the company has not confirmed that.

While that might be good news for Mac users it is likely a sign that Twitter sees the real growth in its platform will happen with mobile devices and not the desktop. We just hope that whomever is developing the new Twitter app at least makes an effort to keep it current.

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