For years, Twitter has been happy to concede mobile versions of its impossibly popular network to third parties who knew what they were doing. In fact, the company was so behind the curve that, this June, it bought one of those app creators, Atebits, and rebranded it as its own official iPhone application.
Twitter's iPad incarnation may be the easiest official way there is to access the service.
Now Twitter has expanded to the iPad with a familiar yet customized version of the Twitter for iPhone application. Twitter for iPad is even easier to use than its small-screened companion. The screen is organized in a manner almost identical to the web version of Twitter, only with the tweet timeline and the menu sections reversed. It looks extremely simple at first, but as you use the app, its subtle power is revealed. When you tap a tweet to see the tweeter’s profile or tap a link to get an in-app look at the webpage (or other item mentioned, including other Twitter conversations) in question, tertiary information is presented in a pane that slides in from the right when needed, partially overlaying the timeline and shrinking the size of the menu bar when it’s active. To get a closer look at the information, you can slide it farther left until it takes over most of the screen. Want to dig deeper into a topic? Use two fingers and pull down a tweet to see all of the messages in a conversation thread.
The end result is a system that weaves seamlessly between two and three panes as you very naturally slide back and forth among the various views, zooming in on items to get a granular look at something, then quickly zipping back out to get a broader sense of what’s going on. This is what Twitter should have been designed to look like from the beginning, but it’s hard to envision this working so seamlessly on any other device but the iPad.
Twitter for iPad is still clean and functional.
Composing tweets with the app is not quite as in-depth, but it’s equally enriched. Three simple options appear alongside the input area: one to attach an image, one to geotag your location, and another to shrink URLs on the spot. The interface makes it easy to figure out how to reply to tweets and direct messages no matter where you are within the app. You can even save half-written tweets as drafts for completion later…when you come up with a punch line, presumably.
For the most part, Twitter for iPad is mercifully free of obtuse icons and rarely offers anything but simplicity in use whether you’re a Twitter novice or a veteran. The app does feature a couple of oddities, though. For example, trending topics are found not on the home screen but under the Search menu option, and for some reason, the iPad app doesn’t include any topics that begin with a hashtag. Naturally, the biggest failing of Twitter for iPad is that it remains inextricably subject to the mercy of Twitter’s notoriously erratic uptime.
Assuming the wind is right and the gods are smiling enough to keep the fail whale at bay, we can’t imagine how we’d make this app any better.
Twitter for iPad 3.1.1
Twitter for iPhone gets an upgrade and a new life on a bigger screen. Amazingly intuitive and extremely powerful.
Minor organizational oddities.