Letting go of TweetDeck

TweetDeck of the Past

Old news is getting older by the minute, but on the 4th of March, Twitter kicked up a mini-storm on the internet by announcing that they were discontinuing support for the older TweetDeck apps: TweetDeck AIR, TweetDeck for Android and TweetDeck for iPhone.

TweetDeck has been around for a long time, and been loved by many though not loved so much since it was bought by Twitter in May of 2011 as an official app and soon after moved off Adobe AIR, as the new layout was a real downgrade from the preexisting one. May have since clung to the last updated version of TweetDeck on Adobe AIR as the last 'useable' version of TweetDeck. I'm sure there are others who could tell you a great deal more than I about the history of TweetDeck, but this is merely my own telling of my experiences.

TweetDeck had been my predominant twitter client since I started using Twitter, as it was recommended to me by friends. It filled my needs at the time as it streamed, it was easy to use to respond quickly, retweet quickly and catch up as it cached tweets to a certain number. It would sometimes lag my laptop, but it was still the most comprehensive and easy to use client out there. After my move to a MacBook, I switched away from it, given how difficult Adobe AIR was, but I still use it whenever I start up my Windows laptops.

TweetDeck for Android graphic

I also used TweetDeck on my Android devices, and have been since my first Android tablet. Although it's lacking in many areas, the main attraction for this app for me was simply its caching ability, the notifications I could set and the columns I could create. The interface is generally poor, the app crashes regularly and lacks the more useful features, but it met the previous requirements which were more of a priority for me. It could store all the Tweets from your last view as long as you left it with an internet connection so that it could continue updating. TweetDeck for iPhone was a whole new cup of tea though, that I never took to, perhaps because of the way it managed background updates.

Twitter has recently been focusing on building their web client as well as their Chrome app, which apparently offers 'some unique features like notifications', as if this hadn't been something that had been available in the original desktop client and not to mention in most clients already. Twitter sure talks big about their 'most powerful tool' and its 'flexible and customisable layout' in a big way for a company that took a step back in all areas of what they claim, having removed functionality that had attracted users in the first place, fixed the column widths and scrolling and made their application customisable in all of two ways.

Current TweetDeck

As with Google who shut down Google Reader earlier this week (you can see this covered here by Ruben), Twitter are in a way also slimming down their services and the decrease in the use of TweetDeck on mobile devices can be associated to the lack of any updates or development to the app since it was bought out by Twitter and the Deck.ly service (which could extend your otherwise 140 character-limited Tweet) removed. You can call me out on an inaccurate comparison if you wish, but both are examples of deliberately 'downgrading' or neglecting a service before finally scrapping them completely. Regardless, despite a 'steady trend towards people using TweetDeck on their computers and Twitter [for Android/iOS] on their mobile devices', I would still consider TweetDeck a superior client to Twitter for Android/iOS. Call me biased.

What's even more disappointing is the way which Twitter tries to enforce use of the their 'official' services in a number of ways, such as restricting their API and removing from which service the Tweet was sent on web Twitter, which used to actively assist users in exploring different clients which to try out.

The most amusing fact out of this? TweetDeck announced their update on their Posterous blog which will also be closing on April 30. Buyouts of great services by major online corporations never serve to improve them, they are carried on for a while, but then discarded along the wayside because of differing interests.