A new Twitter client called Birdfeed was just released in the App Store. There are lots of Twitter clients for the iPhone so I was skeptical on what Birdfeed could do to stand out from the crowd. But being priced at 38 SEK ($4.99), it was bound to have some unique features and a well thought out interface. (or a very good marketing department)
When you first start the application you are directly taken to the timeline, which displays the tweets in beautiful looking talk bubbles. There is a button on the top labled “Load Newer” which updates the timeline and adds a separator with the updated time so you can distinguish new tweets from older ones if you are looking further down the timeline when an automatic update occurs.
When you hit the bottom of the timeline, which is set to 20 tweets by default and can be increased up to 100 in the settings, it will load the next 20 tweets in order. This behaviour is called infinite scrolling and is very intuitive and fast.
The new tweet button is located on the top right of all screens and looks like a small talk bubble. It looks like a standard form for entering a tweet, but has a nifty character counter. Photos can be attached using Twitpic or Yfrog (configurable in the settings), and links can be shortened using the integrated tr.im service (see settings for account information). If your phone happens to ring when you are entering a tweet, or accidentally tap the close button, the draft is always saved (again, configurable), and the next time you tap to create a new tweet, the draft will pop up. If there is a draft available, there will be a dot in the middle of the talk bubble.
If you click on a tweet, you are presented with a new screen and a lot of options. Links and hashtags are clickable, and you have the option to reply, mark as favorite, forward by retweet, email or just post the link. If you are viewing a web URL, there is also integration with Instapaper which lets you save pages for later reading.
If you tap back from the timeline, you will enter the main menu which has the following items:
- Direct Messages
- My Profile
- My Tweets
- View User
The Mentions view looks and behaves like the timeline, but only shows tweets directed to you as always. The Favorites is very similar, but has stars to indicate that the tweets are favorites.
Direct Messages on the other hand, look an awful lot like the Messages app in the iPhone itself. Each correspondent has their own thread which makes it very easy to backtrack a conversation, and it is abundantly clear that you are in fact sending a private message. This means no private messages being sent into the open stream again!
Search works like you would expect, and has support for showing only nearby tweets, as well as the current trends on Twitter.
So the verdict? It is so sweet it has replaced Tweetie as my standard Twitter app on the iPhone! It’s not cheap, but if you are using Twitter a lot or just like well designed software, you will not be disappointed. There are some bugs though, like with all other 1.0 software, but nothing you will experience a lot, or perhaps not even notice.
Addition: It currently does not have support for the landscape keyboard.
Check out Birdfeed in the App Store.