Photo: Mac App Store screenshot
Twitter now has an official Mac app! How it is?Well, it’s really nice. It’s beautiful, it’s zippy, and we really like it.
But it has 10 little quirks which aren’t a big deal individually, but together add up to a frustrating experience.
Now, we should mention we use Twitter about as much as we use air on a daily basis. So, we’re going to notice small things, and we’re going to be nitpicky.
Don’t get us wrong, this is a really good app. It’s obvious that its designer, Loren Brichter, is someone who pays a lot of attention to design and usability.
Which is what makes these 10 quirks as inexplicable as they are infuriating. They drive us crazy. So we thought we’d bring them to Twitter’s attention so they can do something about it.
On most Twitter clients, adding a picture is as easy as clicking a button right there in the new tweet field and picking a file.
We didn't figure out how to upload an image on Twitter for Mac until someone told us you have to drag and drop it. Now that we know, it's pretty easy, but we were stumped -- not the user experience you want.
But, there's still a problem with photos posted to Twitter for Mac. The photo you drag and drop gets turned into a t.co link, not a yfrog link. As a result, when you click on the link you get taken to the web instead of having the image just pop up.
What happens after you retweet something on Twitter for Mac? Nothing.
You click the tiny retweet icon, then you click 'Retweet...', then you click 'Retweet' on the little popup (three clicks already!), and then ... Nothing.
Don't get us wrong: retweets work on Twitter for Mac. But Twitter for Mac doesn't show you that your retweet has worked, which is confusing to the average user, and inconsistent with Twitter on the web. That's just bad.
Bear with us.
Twitter has two ways of retweeting: new retweeting, and pasting a tweet into your own tweet with 'RT @username' or some other form of attribution, which Twitter's official apps call 'quoting.'
When you try to quote a tweet that has been new-retweeted, to add a comment, the quoted tweet is attributed to the person who retweeted it, not the original author.
It's just wrong, and sloppy.
Another feature of the new retweet is that you can't 'new retweet' someone whose account is protected (i.e., the account owner needs to authorise you to follow them).
What happens when you try to 'new retweet' a protected account? To the end user, the same thing that happens when you successfully 'new retweet' a normal account: nothing. Except that in reality the opposite thing happens: nothing happens when you retweet the protected account, whereas an actual retweet is made when you retweet a normal account (still with us?).
A principle of user experience design is 'failing gracefully.' When trying to retweet a protected account, that option should be greyed out so that people can't click it. Or there should be a popup that says something like: 'This person's account is protected, so you can't retweet them. Would you like to quote their tweet?' Or anything, really.
The status quo is just infuriatingly inconsistent.
Twitter for Mac updates really fast. But it doesn't always show you the updates. When you switch to the app, there will be a small light by the bubble sign, but it won't automatically show you the new tweets -- even though we asked the app to do this in preferences. Or rather, it will do it sometimes and sometimes not, which is even more infuriating.
Maybe this is a bug on our end, but we have a fairly standard Mac setup.
When clicking the Twitter icon on the Mac desktop's top bar, it doesn't show you the app. Instead, it shows you a drop-down menu, asking if you want to see tweets, mentions, messages or create a tweet, adding an unnecessary click. Just show us the app! 90% of the time we just want to see our timeline.
Again, not a huge deal, but when you do it 20 times a day, you start to go bonkers.
As a writer for a tech publication, we get plenty of @ replies, whether from spammers, random people or just people retweeting our stories. Twitter for Mac doesn't just show the @ replies you get, but also any retweets of any tweet you're mentioned in, which is inconsistent with the web app, which has a separate category for 'Your tweets, retweeted.'
This is confusing as hell the first time, and after that makes @ replies harder to manage.
Growl is a great notification system for Mac which lets app push notifications to you on the top of your screen.
For example, you'll get a tiny signal if you've finished downloading a file. Growl is perfect for Twitter -- we can just glance at the new tweets on our timeline as they appear, without paying too much attention to them. If we want to click a link or retweet or something, we go to the app. You can turn on Growl in Preferences, but it doesn't seem to make sense that it's turned off by default.
When you click through to someone's profile and want to follow them, the follow button is really tiny.
On Twitter for iPad, there's a huge button right there in the middle! On Twitter for Mac, it's tiny and in the bottom-left corner. For a few days we thought there was no follow button! Again, we're pretty dumb, but we're the people you have to design for.
We realise iPad buttons have to be bigger because it's a touch interface, but still -- making it so people wouldn't miss it would be great.
Even though you can get a lot of value from just reading people, presumably tweeting is a pretty big part of the whole Twitter experience.
And yet creating a tweet seems like it's hidden on purpose. You have to click a tiny, tiny menu button in the bottom-left corner of the app, and THEN click 'New Tweet', which is the option farthest away from the mouse pointer. There's a convenient keyboard shortcut to create a tweet, which is good for power users, who use keyboard shortcuts a lot, but we don't use keyboard shortcuts a lot.
There should be a big button, or even better, a big text field, that allows people to tweet without people having to figure out how to tweet using the official Twitter app.