The Tweetdeck team have been hard at work for two years thinking about how to display and navigate streams on the web and on devices. The Android version that moved into beta yesterday is a big step forward. The tech blogs have done feature reviews, paid complements to the user experience, the speed and simplicity of use but there is more going on here. It is going to take a some use to settle in on why this is different and what has changed, users are starting to see it.
What’s so different here is the concept of a single unified column for all your real time feeds. Inside of the “home” column are the different services color coded and weighted to allow for the varying speed / cadence of different streams. In the screen shot below you see the beta Android client, you are looking at my “home” column. It includes updates from all my Twitter accounts, Facebook, Foursquare, Buzz etc. You can see that a checkin is included in the home stream as a simple gesture that tells me “Sam checked in at Terminal 4″. Its formatted differently to a Twitter update – it contains only the summary information I need “someone is checking in somewhere”.
If click on the “check in” the view pivots around place not person.
This cross stream integration is also evident in the “me” column — a single column that integrates all mentions across the various social services you have. The “me” column is the first one to the right of home — you can see it in the screenshot below. The subtle little dots on top offer a simple navigation note that you are now one column to the right of “home”. And the “me” column again integrates mentions across streams — the top one is a reply to a Facebook update, if I click through I get the context, below it are Twitter mentions.
I wrote about the importance of context in the stream a while ago. Context is more important now than ever as the pace of updates, vertical services (ie: local, q&a, payments) and re-syndication continues to only speed up. Previously Tweetdeck ran all of these services in separate columns – one for each. The Android version still has mutliple columns but the other columns are ways to track either topics (search) or people (individual people or groups of people) — you can see how those work here. It’s in beta and there is still work to do still but this new version of Tweetdeck breaks new ground — the team have created something very wonderful.
The original Tweetdeck broke new ground in how Twitter could be used. All the Twitter clients had until that time taken their DNA from the IM clients. They all sought to replicate a single column, a diminutive view of the stream. Tweetdeck on the desktop changed all of that. Offering a multi column view that was immersive, intense and full on. As you move your service to different platforms (say from Web to mobile) you are faced with the perplexing question of whether you re-think the service to fit the dimensions and features of the new platform (mobile) or you offer users the same familiar experience. Tweetdeck Android is a ground up re-invention of the desktop experience — created for for mobile. I have been using it for a few weeks now and it is changing the way I experience the real time web. Once again the Tweetdeck team have taken a big bold step into something new, you can get the beta here.
(note Tweetdeck is a betaworks co.)