SiliconFilter

Tweetbot 2.0: The Best iPhone Twitter Client Just Got Even Better

/

As Twitter has decided to focus on simplicity, its iPhone app is now a shadow of its former self for more advanced users (and for Twitter, search and lists apparently qualify as advanced features). Thankfully, there are some very good alternatives on market and among those, Tweetbot has long been my favorite. Today, the app's developers launched version 2.0 of Tweetbot and it’s a worthy upgrade to what was already – in my view – the best iPhone client for iOS.

Speed and New Features

The first thing you will likely notice when you start Tweetbot 2.0 is that it is significantly faster than previous versions. Searches, for example, now feel like they take a quarter of the time to appear on your screen.

Besides the speed, though, the app also now sports a number of new features. The updated timeline view, for example, now lets you immediately click on links and usernames. Before, you first had to select a tweet before these links became active. The timeline now also features in-line image thumbnails that let you quickly view an image with just one click.

Another nifty new feature is support for Readability as a mobilizer service. Just like Apple's Reader feature lets you see a text-only view of a website, you can now set Tweetbot to immediately see a text-only view of any link you click on (or you can toggle back and forth between the Readability view and the regular page).

Here is the full list of new features:[list]

  • Updated timeline view
    • Image thumbnails in timeline
    • Links now colored and single-tappable
    • “Retweeted by” bar now integrated and tappable
    • Cell colors adjusted for better contrast
  • New direct message view.
  • Redesigned “New Tweets” bar (Can be dismissed by tap and configured in Settings > Display)
  • Timed auto-refresh (timeline, mentions, and DM’s will refresh every 5 minutes)
  • Readability added as mobilizer service
  • Much improved tweet replies view
  • Links in user’s bio now tappable
  • “Huge” font size option in Settings > Display
  • Improved scrolling performance[/list]


11:37 am


The Daily Goes 1.1: This is the Version They Should Have Launched With

/

Remember The Daily? The over-hyped and much-maligned iPad-only newspaper backed by media titan Rupert Murdoch? The first version of the paper’s iPad app was, to put it mildly, a disaster. There were not just major usability issues, but the app also crashed regularly and just felt half-baked.

Today, The Daily finally launched a new version of its app (iTunes link). Why it took the organization this long to fix the app isn’t quite clear. What I am sure about, though, is that if they had just launched with this version of the app instead of the original one, the majority of the original backlash could have been avoided.

daily_new_toc

A Real Table of Contents and Fewer Crashes

Indeed, this new app is actually quite good. Gone is the focus on the horrid carousel that was supposed to take the place of a more traditional table of contents. Instead, The Daily now actually features a regular table of contents. The carousel is still there and still features the same 1990s-style pixelated article previews, but you never actually have to see it.

The app also now opens to the front cover and remembers where you left off after you close the app (the original app wasn’t made for multitasking).

There are a number of other improvements, too. Commenting is now easier and the app feels stable and generally faster.

Is it Enough?

The question, of course, is if this will be enough to get people to check The Daily out again. The content, as far as I can see, hasn’t changed and still shows the general old-school mainstream newspaper mentality (including a Sudoku and horoscope section).

There is definitely a lot of potential in the idea of a tablet-based newspaper and thanks to interactive graphs, plenty of large photographs and other multimedia content, The Daily is at least trying to be at the cutting edge.

Whether people will pay $0.99 per week to give it another try, though, remains to be seen.

 



11:40 pm


Google Counters Apple's In-App Subscriptions with Cheaper, More Flexible Solution

/

Google just announced its new content payment system One Pass that will give publishers a very flexible and affordable option for charging their readers for access to their content. With One Pass, publishers can charge readers on the Web and in mobile apps for subscriptions, metered access, day passes, single articles and “freemium” content. Publishers will also be able to offer free online and mobile subscriptions to existing customers. Payments are handled through Google Checkout, which means Google will take a 2 to 3% cut plus $0.30 from all transactions (percentages depend on monthly sales volume).

Yesterday, I criticized Apple for looking very greedy by charging publishers a flat fee of 30% for all subscriptions. Google  clearly timed its launch as a reaction to this and offers publishers far more flexibility than Apple’s siloed program.

Google’s announcement today feels somewhat rushed given that the One Pass website isn’t fully functional yet. It was clearly in the making for a long time, though. It’s worth noting that while Apple faced strong opposition against its plan from European publishers, Google managed to garner the support of some of Europe’s largest publishers. Among the launch partners are the German Axel Springer AG and publications like Stern (published by Bertelsman subsidiary Gruner + Jahr) and the Burda/MSN cooperation Focus Online. In addition, Google also confirmed Media General (U.S.), NouvelObs (France), Bonnier’s Popular Science (U.S.), Prisa (Spain) and Rust Communications (U.S. regional publisher) as partners.

Google promises that the new system will be “simple to set up, simple to manage and simple for readers.” For now, though, we have to take Google’s word for this, as the system is not live yet. Interestingly, Google also notes that One Pass will allow users to access their content anywhere with just one login. We assume Google forgot to mention that this does not include iOS apps.

p.s. I can only assume Google gets to use the One Pass name because Continental Airline’s frequent flier program will soon be phased out in favor of United’s Mileage Plus program.



9:35 am


Is Apple Getting Too Greedy? Demands 30% Cut of In-App Subscriptions

/

After a lot of confusion earlier this year, Apple today finally clarified its rules for in-app subscriptions for magazines, newspapers, video and music. The rules are very straightforward: Publishers can continue to sell digital subscriptions on their own websites and give free access to existing subscribers. Apple will not take a cut from these transactions. Publishers who offer out-of-app subscriptions, though, also have to offer in-app subscriptions and the price has to be the same or lower than for subscriptions processed outside of the app. Apple will take a 30% cut from these in-app transactions.

This is a rather hefty fee for processing a transaction given that most credit card processors just charge around 2.5% and a small transaction fee (generally around $0.25). It’s also worth noting that it looks as if Apple will take this same cut whenever a subscriber renews a subscription, though this isn’t 100% clear yet. This new subscription plan will become mandatory starting June 30.

Steve Jobs: “Our Philosophy is Simple”

Just in case developers think they can just provide a link to their regular web-based subscription service in their apps and circumvent Apple’s system, the rules explicitly state that “publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a website, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.”

In the words of Apple CEO Steve Jobs: “Our philosophy is simple—when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing.” That does sound fair, but in reality, chances are that the majority of new customers for subscription services will come from apps and given that developers aren’t allowed to route around the system, this 30% cut become a major issue for some publishers.

Can Publishers Afford This Without Raising Prices?

You can currently buy an annual subscription to Wired on Amazon for $10 and getting National Geographic for a year costs $15 per year. Will these magazines have to offer the same prices for the app-based versions of their products? (Or do these “promotional” prices not count?) If Hulu has to give Apple $2.40 of every $7.99 subscription it sells, can it still make a profit? Or will Apple’s move force them to raise their prices across the board?

It is, of course, a good thing that Apple is making it easier for consumers to buy subscriptions and helps publishers acquire new subscribers. Having to pay a 30% fee for these services does seem quite steep, though, especially given that Apple now owns the customer and not the publishers.



11:37 am