After months of waiting and wondering when they would finally get something in the store, Twitter has released their official app for Windows 8. Unlike several similarly-anticipated releases, this one seems to have been worth the wait in most ways!
All of the features that you might be familiar with from other official Twitter apps are present. You get the standard breakdown into Home, Connect, Discover, and Me tabs. They all work exactly as you would expect them to and can handle keyboard/mouse interfaces just as well as touchscreens.
In fullscreen mode, the tabs are laid out on the left side of the screen and the information is presented in tiles. The interface is very much in line with the Modern UI aesthetic. Regardless of your location in the app, you can also tweet or run a search by clicking on icons in the upper right corner of the screen. All pretty basic, but very clean and well presented.
When docked, the app is reminiscent of the mobile apps. The tiles are lined up to take up the entire width of the display area, effectively making it a list of tweets with lines in between. All very clean and no real space wasted. The search and tweet buttons in this view are repositioned at the bottom of the screen.
Rather than simply replicating the experience they have created for other platforms and slapping a Windows 8 skin on it, Twitter has come up with a fair amount of real integration for the new environment as well.
The Share Charm works exactly as it is meant to. Anything you want to share can be thrown into your timeline. Searching works equally well. While there is still a button in-app for running searches you can now do it through the Charm Bar too. That may be only a small convenience, but it is a welcome one.
Most importantly, Live Tiles are active for Twitter. They will keep up a running feed for all the people you follow available on your Start Screen. Notifications covering your favorite people and direct messages are available by default.
There is obviously still room for improvement. A multi-column view in the fashion of TweetDeck would probably go over well with many users. There is a great deal of screen space that could be used in fullscreen more on your average desktop display and only showing one column of tiles at a time might be too minimalist.
Custom lists would also be quite handy. While it isn’t necessarily a must-have feature, anybody who follows a significant number of users (probably Twitter’s most important user base) would be served well by anything that let individual groups be displayed independently.
It may have taken far longer than makes sense, but this is an app that was done right. If we see similar quality coming from other late releases in the weeks and months ahead of us then a lot of the complaints about the Windows Store and by extension Windows 8 will be on their way out.