June 25, 2009

TweetDeck for the iPhone

I’ve been a user of TweetDeck on my PC for a long time. As long as it has been around maybe? I’m not sure exactly when I started. I love it. I can’t imagine using Twitter without it. It makes it possible to keep up with hundreds of users without spending all my time doing it. I divide up my followees into groups. For some, generally people I know in person, I want to try and read their tweets as they come in. For others, people I only know from Twitter or news feeds and other bots, I’m happy to catch up less often. Then I keep TweetDeck running and watch the alerts. If tweets pop up in appropriate groups I’ll open up TweetDeck to read them, otherwise I’ll leave them for later. This way I can keep up-to-date in real time with people I care about while still getting some work done.

For almost as long as I’ve been using TweetDeck on my PC I’ve wanted an iPhone version. To have all the same functionality in a mobile format would be awesome. When such a thing was announced last week I couldn’t wait to try it. Not only was there an iPhone version but it synchronised groups with my PC installation. Perfect!

Except, it turns out I use Twitter differently on my phone. I don’t have it running all the time while doing other things. When I open up a Twitter client on my phone it is because I want to spend a few minutes catching up. I have the time to read everything. I don’t need my followees in groups – i just want to read everything. Groups actually get in the way. So I’m back to reading just my “All Friends” stream and ignoring the other groups.

Don’t get me wrong. TweetDeck for the iPhone is a great app. It makes great use of the iPhone screen and gestures. It might even be nicer to use than the PC version. Multi-account support is really useful. And it looks great. It is just that the feature I thought I really, really wanted turns out to be a feature I don’t actually use. Of course, what’s true for me may not be true for you. I already know of one person with exactly the opposite experience. They love TweetDeck on the iPhone but don’t use it at all on a desktop/laptop, preferring the single stream produced by something like twhirl.

The lesson for me here is that mobile and desktop platforms are different and we use them differently. What works brilliantly on one might not be so great on the other.

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