By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER
Twitter on the iPad
Adding comment from Flipboard at the end.
Twitter has surprised its founders with how useful it has become to a wide variety of people — but the founders are also the first to admit that Twitter’s own Web site has not been the easiest, prettiest or most intuitive to use. “It’s amazing it’s grown so fast given how hard it is to use,” Twitter’s chief executive and co-founder, Evan Williams, said last spring.
The iPad app, introduced late Wednesday night, seems to be a big step toward fixing those problems and a new approach for Twitter, one that is all about ease of use and intuitive features.
“Twitter for iPad takes advantage of the iPad’s fluid touch interface, letting you move lots of information around smoothly and quickly –- without needing to open and close windows or click buttons,” wrote Leland Rechis, a user interface designer at Twitter, in a company blog post.
People often use Twitter to share links, and one of the annoying things about the 140-character limit for messages is that links that have been shortened, using bit.ly and other services, do not offer any indication of where they will lead. That is something that Flipboard, another iPad app, is addressing by taking the links in a person’s Twitter and Facebook feeds and adding clips and photos from the linked articles.
With Twitter for iPad, people can tap on a link and see photos, stories or video in a new pane, and easily swipe their finger to move between the content and the Twitter stream.
Another frustrating aspect of Twitter is that it can be difficult to track conversations as people reply and refer to one another, and to find more information about a particular Twitter user without clicking on a bunch of links. The new iPad app addresses that as well. By pinching on a Twitter post on the iPad screen, users can read more about an author and reply to a post. By putting two fingers together and pulling down on a post, people can view the rest of the conversation around the post.
As on Flipboard and Twitter’s own Web site, people can use the app and read content on Twitter without becoming a Twitter member, by looking at accounts in categories like news, arts or sports.
Twitter has been focusing on developing its own mobile apps since last spring, when it acquired Atebits, the maker of the Tweetie iPhone app, and introduced its own iPhone and BlackBerry apps. Loren Brichter, the founder of Atebits, worked with Mr. Rechis on the Twitter for iPad app, as did Bryan Haggerty, a mobile designer at Twitter.
Twitter’s iPad app could fuel new tensions with developers. It could compete with similar services like Flipboard and Pulse, just as Twitter’s iPhone app, which it acquired when it bought Atebits, competed with other apps. Flipboard in particular has gotten a lot of attention for being an attractive and user-friendly way to read Twitter and Facebook on an iPad.
Mike McCue, co-founder and chief executive of Flipboard, said he expects people will use both apps: Twitter for iPad for posting on Twitter and monitoring hashtags, and Flipboard for “lean-back discovery and seamless reading of shared articles, photos and videos across all your social networks.”