Is the New Twitter too Minimal and Simplified?

Twitter as a company seems to be in a confusing position. On the one hand, prominent investors are resigning from the board and talented employees are jumping ship. Lack of a clear vision for the future is rumoured to be the reason. On the other hand, people are joining the micro blogging platform in troves and with every passing month, the number of tweets sent out is on exponential rise.

I would say Twitter has taken about 50% of my reading time from Google Reader and 30% of my communication time from Gmail. From customer to support to political uprisings, Twitter has rebooted the way things get done. It’s funny how they have accomplished all this without hardly any new addition to the core product at all.

Last week, Twitter unveiled a radical change to the web and mobile apps. Predictably, there were a lot of people complaining. Why are they all so mad?

Timeline View

The New Twitter Interface

The New Twitter Interface

The timeline view remains largely the same and tweets now expand to display more information including the number of retweets received.

Conversation View

Conversation View

The conversation view got better and earlier it was a chore to see what all the fuss all about a certain topic. Like conversations, photos and videos are embedded directly in tweets so you can see the whole story at a glance. And now everything in home screen will appear consistently across computers, iPhone and Android mobile phones. This decision of theirs to make Twitter look the same across all platforms has gotten them into a sticky wicket (more later).

Connect

Interactions and Mentions

Interactions and Mentions

The new Connect section is where you get in on the conversation. The developers have done a splendid job fleshing out the conversations from the timeline offering a dedicated space for you to follow or engage in a meaningful discussion. From here you can see who has followed or mentioned you, retweeted or favorited one of your tweets too.

Discover

Discovery was a major pain point with Twitter. Considering how many people and brands have setup shop in the social network, what they offered in the name of discovery was next to nothing. Since third party developers feared that Twitter might anytime come up with built in discovery features, not a lot of innovation went into that aspect of the platform. But the new version seems to be heading in the right direction when it comes to discovery.

The Discover Section

The Discover Section

When you use Discover, you’ll see results reflecting your interests – based on your current location, who you follow and what’s happening in the world. Over time, based on your usage the discover feature will get even better at serving up more relevant content for you.

Closing Thoughts

If you were using the web app for sending and reading tweets, you will not be very much disappointed with the changes. In fact, the changes and additions finally make the Twitter web app a decent client. I don’t see any of the features that power users have been gunning for over the years, but clearly the revamped version is all about new users and making them comfortable with the platform.

However, if you were a Tweetdeck or mobile app user, the new version is a disaster. Tweetdeck has been stripped down, and the new Twitter for iPhone is barely useful anymore, at least for power users. They even took away the swipe to retweet and reply option, one of the iconic features of the original Tweetie app. An iPad version of the disaster is in development and is about to be unleashed shortly.

The new version of the web app is being rolled out slowly and if you want instant access, you will have to update the iOS or Android apps. That’s how a lot of us walked right into the trap. Well, you will have to sacrifice something to gain something!