Twitter released its official Android app with a completely redesigned interface today, after previewing the app to 25 followers of @TwiterGlobalPR earlier this week. The 25 demos sent by Twitter went fast, and the account was still getting deluged with requests today, nearly two days after offering the previews, and after tweeting, “Thanks for your interest in our new Twitter for Android app. We contacted the first 25 responders. Others will be able to get it soon enough.” Soon enough was today.
Brad at the NextWeb was one of the first to respond to a tweet from @TwitterGlobalPR offering a preview of the new app to the first 25 at-repliers. And he was good enough to post a walk-through video after firing the app up for the first time.
The new Android app looks and acts very much like the official Twitter for Mac released in the newly launched Mac App Store in early January, and the Twitter for iPad app.
A bar at the top of the stream lets you switch back and forth from Tweets, Mentions, DM’s and even your Lists without going to main menu each time, as you have to do with the last iteration of the app. The app also feels and function completely differently, again emulating the iPad experience, with a bouncy stream that you update by pulling down and releasing. The Mentions stream now displays retweets as well as mentions, offering you a fuller picture of how your followers are interacting with you. You can also add to and manage lists from within the app, now.
Like the Mac redesign the Android app now sports a sleek black look and some added functionality, such as a feature that scrapes your phone’s contacts for Twitter matches. This feature alone may be worth the price of admission (which, of course, is nothing except your time, since the app is free). This shows up the first time you start the app (if you’re looking for it after that, it’s, perhaps counterintuitively, in the search menu), and the default is to not follow your contacts. You scroll through a list, adding accounts you’d like to follow as you go. It makes no distinction between accounts you already follow and ones you don’t, just offers the accounts of everyone in your phone’s contacts who’s on Twitter, so you’ll have to do some manually sorting. But it’s still a nice feature and it’s surprising nobody else seems to have offered it yet.
Getting around too is much nicer with the new version of the app. A long-press presents options to reply, retweet, star or share and a short-press expands the message, offering context such as the conversation to which a tweet may be a part or an image included or video with the message.
Another point worth noting is that Twitter is also targeting people who don’t actively participate by making the app functional even for people who don’t have an account or aren’t signed in. When not attached to an account the app will show what’s trending, and allow you to browse tweets by interest.
When you are logged in, the search menu is where you’ll find trending topics. Also new in this update is universal search functionality, which allows you to search just for a term, search for that term used by users nearby, or search for a term in a user name.
As Twitter explains on its blog:
For example, let’s say you want to search for “packers,” As you type “packers” in the search box, you’ll see the following suggestions:
search packers: this will return Tweets that include the word “packers”
- search packers nearby: this will return Tweets that include the word “packers” and are sent by nearby users
- search packers in people: this will return accounts that have “packers” in the name
- @packers: this option will skip search results and take you directly to the account, if it exists (in this example, it does)
Overall, the new Twitter for Android is a big step forward, finally offering some of the functionality of the best third-party apps and then some.
Download it: If you like the look and feel of the official Twitter products for the Mac and iPad
Skip it: If you use your Android device to keep track of multiple Twitter accounts at once