New TweetDeck 2.0 for iPhone Review: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

After some delays, the new TweetDeck for iPhone app (known as iOSDeck) arrived in the App Store this morning. And not a moment too soon, as the old app was badly broken and TweetDeck effectively abandoned it months ago in favor of rebuilding it from the ground up. I've had some time to play with it today and here are my impressions:

The Good:

Combined columns: This is the greatest new thing ever in Twitter apps. While this was a feature already included in the Chrome version of TweetDeck (known as ChromeDeck), its making its first appearance here in the iPhone app. Basically, instead of having a Twitter feed, a Facebook feed, a DM feed, etc., you can merge columns, so you can put your FB and Twitter feed into the same column; all your replies, Facebook mentions, etc., go into another column, and so on. You can combine multiple searches into one column. The flexibility to create your own columns substantially cuts down on the number of columns I have running. A gigantic thumbs up for this.

The look: Like TweetBot, the new TweetDeck for iPhone looks great. Big thumbs up for that. Unlike TweetBot, TweetDeck for iPhone has a landscape composing mode. Bigger thumbs up for that.

Deck.ly: Deck.ly is TweetDeck's built-in "long" Twitter update, that allows you to post a Twitter update beyond the standard 140 characters. For anyone not using TweetDeck, the long tweet shows up as 140 characters and then a link to the Deck.ly site where the full tweet can be read. For TweetDeck users, the same long tweet is automatically shown in its full form without the need to jump to a website. It's a polarizing feature: some people think that services like Deck.ly are a "cheat" on the whole purpose of Twitter. I had mixed feelings about it initially, but after playing with it in ChromeDeck for a few weeks, I'm fine with it. Mainly because I can now post the same long update to both Facebook and Twitter at the same time.

Facebook integration: I've read lots of comments today to the effect the the Facebook integration in this is so good that you can ditch the actual Facebook app. I haven't gone that far (not yet, anyway), but the Facebook integration is tons better than in HootSuite.

The Bad:

No scheduled updates: It's one of my favorite features of both HootSuite (desktop and iPhone app) and the original desktop TweetDeck - the ability to schedule an update to be posted in the future. Not including this in the new iOSDeck seems like a step backwards.

Some of the settings are in "Settings": In order to change the font size or turn off the long Tweet "Deck.ly" feature, you don't go into the settings part of the app, you go into your iPhone "Settings", scroll to TweetDeck and make changes there. It's odd.

Initially figuring out how to post to Facebook or other social networks isn't obvious: Instead of having all of your social networks listed in the compose screen, you get just your default network. You have to touch your default network icon to bring up your other social networks and you can select from there. Once you figure it out, it's fine, but it's not intuitive the first time around, and very different to how most other Twitter apps handle it. I will say, though, that the way this feature is set up makes it far more difficult to accidentally post from the wrong account.


No choices on photo uploading, link shrinking: Hope you like using Yfrog and j.mp because for the moment, those are your only choices.

The Ugly:  

There's nothing particularly ugly about this app. It just feels incomplete in a lot of ways. It's missing a number of features that are standard in other Twitter apps these days, such as support for other link shortening services (or even the ability to log into your own bit.ly account) or photo uploading services. As one person on Twitter put it today, "How can you release a ver 2.0 and not have half the options the 1.0 ver had?"

The bottom line: The new TweetDeck is both a step forward and a step back. There's lots to love in the new iOSDeck, but the missing features make me hesitant to permanently switch from HootSuite. I've always maintained that the best social media app ever would combine the best features of HootSuite and TweetDeck, as both do a lot of things really well, but neither is entirely perfect.

And if TweetDeck isn't your thing, here's my review of TweetBot.
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