Looking at the screenshots of Tweetie, the latest Twitter desktop app from atebits, tells you all you need to know about the look & feel of of the app – it’s simply gorgeous. Fluid animations and an easy-on-the-eyes color scheme make looking at Tweetie as much fun as using it.However, form is never above function in my book. As beautiful as Tweetie is, it lacks so much in the way of features, functionality and overall value. The lack of a “Groups” feature is first and foremost. The ability to have groups in a Twitter app is probably the number one feature to look for in a modern Twitter app if you follow a lot of people and value your time. For instance, I have a Smart Folder in EventBox (my Twitter app of choice) for Adobe-related Tweets, another for other software vendors, yet another for local friends, and several others – including one that displays all Tweets that contain my Twitter username in them. You can see a few of my Smart Folders from EventBox in the screenshot at the right. These Smart Folders help me to categorize my Twitter feed for easier reading. They really go a long way in keeping Twitter from turning into a giant time-suck. The lack of a groups (or Smart Folder) feature in a Twitter app is like not having the ability to create folders and sub-folders for your browser bookmarks. Imagine having all your bookmarks in one folder… To compensate for the lack of this feature, the developer has decided that you need to create multiple Twitter accounts, each with a separate set of people to follow if you want to categorize your Twitter stream, rather than simply filtering the Tweets in one account. That’s more usernames and passwords to remember. This is unforgivable in my book, and ultimately is the reason most Twitteraholics will probably try this app, then toss it shortly after. While the method for viewing Tweets in your Twitter stream looks amazing in Tweetie, I found having to open a new input window to enter a Tweet to be more annoying than I thought it would be. I would much rather have an input box at the bottom of the Tweetie window always available – like virtually every other Twitter app out there. No ability to hide either the dock or menubar icon is annoying, especially since the menubar icon’s only function is to bring Tweetie to hide and unhide the app – no menus, no shortcuts, no access to preferences, nothing. While it’s nice that a search feature was added to Tweetie, I find it to be useless because the results are gone the second you click out of the search window – there’s no way to save them for future reading. Again, this is a feature similar to Groups or Smart Folders that other Twitter apps offer. I do like the ability to click on a user’s icon to get more information about them, as well as view their Twitter stream and favorite Tweets. It’s a great way to explore new users. I also love the way Tweetie groups Direct Messages by user (now if they can do that, why can’t they set up groups for the main Twitter stream???). Clicking on a username in the Direct Message window will reveal all DMs related to that user in a way similar to an iChat conversation. Similarly, you can double-click on any Tweet in the main Twitter stream to view that Tweet, as well as the entire conversation history. So when you see someone reply to another user with “Yes, I love that app!” – you can easily find out just what app they were talking about. Tweetie also has a bookmarklet you can add to your favorite browser’s bookmarks bar which when clicked will automatically open a new input window in Tweetie, and past the link to the page you were on in the window. This is a nice time-saver, but as with some of Tweetie’s other features, it didn’t go all the way with it. In order to shorten the URL of that link, you either have to use a keyboard shortcut, or select it from a drop-down menu. It really should be automatic. The one killer feature of Tweetie is the TwitPic integration. You can simply drag & drop an image into a Tweetie window and have it automatically uploaded to TwitPic and the link pasted into your Tweet. Clicking on Twitpic images from other users opens the image in a small window (as seen in the screenshot above) – saving you the trouble of viewing it in a browser. There are several features I find lacking in one form or the other, such as the distinction between read and unread Tweets. You can set Tweetie to dim read Tweets, but it only dims them slightly. At first glance I really can’t tell the difference. Overall though, most of my issues with Tweetie are minor. Now you might think after reading my review that I don’t like Tweetie. That is not the case. Tweetie is an excellent Twitter client for the Mac. For casual Twitter users, it’s probably one of the best available, if not the very best. But for a Twitter power user, you’re probably going to find the features lacking, and stick with EventBox, TweetDeck, Seesmic Desktop, or Nambu. Tweetie is available for free if you don’t mind seeing a few ads, or an ad-free version for $14.95 ($19.95 after May 4, 2009) and runs on OSDX 10.5 on a G4, G5 or Intel Mac.
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