June 02, 2020
I love Twitter. It is probably the only social network I’ve used every day since November 2007 when I joined it. Twitter matured from a place to shout out dumb things to outer space to a discussion platform. Retweets, threads, and rich media contributed to this immensely.
It doesn’t change the fact that Twitter experience can be much better. This post is my speculation on how the better Twitter client could look like.
This discussion can’t start with anything other than the much-requested Edit Button. Users have been asking for this for years. Unfortunately, there are no such plans to build that functionality into Twitter.
Twitter anticipates the malicious exploitation of this feature. One can edit a tweet that was retweeted and completely change the message. I think that’s a reasonable stance, and we should respect that.
Let’s make a little detour and take a look at the Email and its underlying protocol SMTP. As far as I know, it doesn’t allow editing sent messages. However, that doesn’t stop Email clients to provide a way to delay the actual sending of the email for 30 seconds or a minute.
Every major Email client has this feature. Gmail allows us to set the Send cancellation period in Settings. Outlook allows to Delay the delivery of all messages for years. Mail.app has plugins that enable this. The better Twitter client can provide this feature out of the box. Of course, it should work seamlessly and unobtrusive. [^ The closest thing I’ve heard in this regard is the new https://brizzly.com/ client.]
Animation by Dasha Mironova
The official Twitter clients for macOS and iOS don’t sync the timeline between each other. I have only one explanation for this. Twitter sees its platform as a reactive medium. Everything changes quickly, and tweets from 2 hours ago are considered ancient. Twitter incentivizes us to react instantly instead of replying to a few hours of old tweets.
I can’t say for everyone but my approach to Twitter is to meticulously choose whom to follow and then read everything they write. I also check the feed only a few times per day at most, from either mobile or computer.
That means that the timeline sync is a must for the better Twitter client.
There were countless times when I wanted to share something that I saw on Twitter some time ago but was unable to find that. I guess the lack of a good full-text search for the tweets I saw is connected to the previous “instant Twitter” dogma. Twitter wants us to see tweets as ephemeral opinions. That’s great for reducing the writer’s anxiety but diminishes the value of the platform.
The better Twitter client should index all tweets from my timeline and do full-text search similar to what https://twitter-search.io/ does. There seems to be some open-source attempts to achieve that but I don’t know any user-friendly client that would allow that.
We should embrace the fact that Twitter is a regular social network. It has user-profiles and direct messages. It is also probably the only social network where we often interact with people outside our close circle.
More often than not we check user-profiles and users feeds that we discovered accidentally. We do interact with strangers from time to time.
I’d love to see more detailed information about users: whether we interacted before, whether I saw their tweets, maybe we liked or retweeted each other’s tweets. Also, a brief analysis of the last tweets of users can’t hurt. Which topics they are interested in, how frequently they tweet etc.
This is an obvious one. The client should allow posting Twitter Threads and display other people’s threads nice and easy.
A thread consisted of 30 tweets shouldn’t force you to scroll through it. The official apps handle that perfectly while others don’t. I’m looking at Tweetbot now. That’s my client of choice but it doesn’t care much of threads. It doesn’t allow posting threads either. WTF? Just take a look at how threads posting should be implemented by looking at the Chirr App.
Ok, this is probably more of a “power-user” feature but an important one. It always strikes me that my best thoughts caught me in the most inconvenient places and times. I used to do quick notes using the Drafts app just to be able to return to this thought later.
I wish to schedule tweets in advance when I have time to focus on sharing on Twitter. There is a myriad of services that do that but I know zero of clients that do that out of the box.
The better Twitter client should incorporate what Buffer or many other services provide: an ability to write tweets and threads in the future. [^ Update: looks like Twitter is about to allow tweets scheduling in its web app https://twitter.com/TwitterSupport/status/1266081598748925961]
I guess such an app can be monetized with a monthly fee because of the large market and the value for the end-user: daily usage with multiple interactions per day.
The only reason why we don’t have a better Twitter client is Twitter itself. Being dependent on the platform means that the whole business can be easily shut down if it doesn’t suit the platform needs.
Let’s hope this changes someday.
Written by Anton Mironov.
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