Tweetie, Too?

“You know, there’s a whole new version of Tweetie out.”

This news came from a friend during dinner. And no, in fact, I _didn’t_ know.

Sometime during my past two years on Twitter, the service transitioned from Just Another Trendy Social Media Waste Of Time to A Fun Way To Keep Up With Friends to Something Useful to An Important Part Of My Day.

At minimum, I enjoy seeing photos of a friend’s Halloween costume. And on weeks like this one, when I was posting lots of major pieces to the Sun-Times, it’s a big part of my job. I and my editor check things carefully but as always, Twitter is a good copy editor and if any little bugs crept through the firewall (a bad link, an incomplete sentence) I’ll know about it inside of twenty minutes and we can apply a fix.

I also regularly search for references to my name. It’s not an ego thing. After I post a 5,000-word review of a major new product, I check Twitter in the same way that the director, writer and producer of a new musical go to Sardis after opening night and wait for the morning papers to arrive. It’s the only way to find out how the piece “played.” I did a major roundup of iPhone GPS software that I’m mighty proud of. But I got so many comments asking “What about Navigon?” that I’ve downloaded this app and will be posting an update with my opinions.

Tweetie is my favorite iPhone Twitter client. It’s hands-down the most muscular Twitter app for the iPhone. When I need it to be simple, it’s simple. And when I unholster my iPhone with a sense of Destiny, I can stride the Twitter landscape akin to a colossus.

Version 2.0 is a true marvel. It’s become even more of a power tool. Just as nice as its abilities to manage and observe many accounts and goals — check out the feature list at the developer site; it’s a long one — it features the sort of slick and clever interface ideas that I associate with iPhone software.

How do you refresh the list? Pop up a menu? Click a “Refresh” button?

Nope: scroll to the very top of the list. The topmost item is connected to the top of the screen with a rubber band. Pull it down, let it “snap” back up, and the app touches base with and refreshes the list. Brilliant!

How the bloody hell was I unaware of this update? It’s been out for three weeks!

Simple: the creators of Tweetie — heartless capitalists who must be acknowledged as the hated oppressors of the freedom-loving proletariat — felt that it wouldn’t be at all out of line to charge $2.99 for this update.

They’re not wrong. But the iTunes App Store doesn’t have any sort of built-in mechanism for “paid” app upgrades. If Atebits had given it away for free and kept the same “product SKU” so to speak, then your iPhone and iTunes would have told me that there was a new edition available, and it would have invited me to download it for free. The developer could only get their $2.99 out of me by releasing Tweetie 2.0 as a new product.

Hmm. There must be a better way. Desktop apps do a version check at startup. If you’re interested in hearing about the new version, you go to a website and get the sales pitch.

This friend of mine who alerted me to 2.0’s existence is an app developer. He tells me that this sort of behavior isn’t permitted by Apple. I might be misremembering his explanation, but it has to do with a prohibition about products that advertise other products.

I must learn about this. Apple’s App Approvals process is indeed the great and powerful Wizard of Oz. It makes its pronouncements in the form of a huge green floating head. In truth, it’s just some anonymous mousy-looking dude behind a curtain. But it’s hard to argue against a huge green floating head.

In any event> Yay, Tweetie 2.0. I stopped using my iPhone for a whole week while I deep-tested the new Motorola Droid phone and the Android 2.0 mobile OS. Tweetie 2 is a reminder of why I couldn’t be happy with anything less than an iPhone.

Posted via email from ihnatko’s posterous

5 thoughts on “Tweetie, Too?

  1. Technodad

    The answer to this is in-app purchasing for upgrades. When FlightTrack put out its pro edition, it added a button that would alloy you to pay the upgrade price, and pushed a notification message about availability.

    Of course, this means additional programming for the developer to do the in-app purchasing, and probably some extra hassles with the Winkies who guard the App Store doors (hey, it was your metaphor…). However, making the purchase easy definitely caused me to impulse-buy the upgrade. So, the developer needs to assess the extra work vs. quicker recognition of upgrde revenue and a bit of greater customer satisfaction.

  2. Rafael

    While there were a couple of rejections regarding too aggressive advertising, there are tons of applications Apple hasn’t rejected for placing ads. You can not only place ads in your application that advertise other products, but you can also advertise your own Premium / Pro version. I don’t know if this against a specific rule, but Apple accepted and still accepts such applications.

  3. Loren Brichter

    Really appreciate the writeup :)

    Re: @technodad – when I first heard about in-app purchases, I really wanted to leverage them to do the update somehow. Sadly it turned out not to be possible (from a technical perspective). The problem is that Tweetie 2 is a whole new app. Every nook and cranny was rewritten from the ground up… in fact, the only thing it shares with the original is the name.

    The problem with in-app purchases is that they were designed to unlock features and content. If all Tweetie 2 did was add a few new features, it would have been possible. But it’s way more than that… it was a whole new *core*. (Imagine if Apple gave away Mac OS X as a free update to Mac OS 9, but then used “in-OS purchases” to unlock, say, pre-emptive multitasking… it just doesn’t work. The whole OS rely’s on that “feature” and when you upgrade, you’re not just paying for new features, you’re paying for a whole new *thing*).

    (And if all Tweetie 2 did was add some new features, it would have been a free update, I’m only charging because I really did rewrite the thing from scratch :).

    Anyway, I’d been talking to Apple for a *really* long time about a discounted upgrade mechanism, the proposal I sent them I thought was pretty slick. For all I know they could still be working on it, but sadly it wasn’t ready in time for Tweetie 2. Alas :)

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