Tweet Time for iOS 5 – An Experiment In Mobile App Organic Growth
Whilst our core purpose is to promote the talents of the world’s best mobile app developers, it would be a little unfair of us if we didn’t allow our community to wax lyrical about their latest work. This week we handed the platform to the wonderfully named Little Red Door from Newcastle, England about their brilliant Tweet Time app.
By Paul Morris
“Simplicity Is The Ultimate Sophistication” - Leonardo Da Vinci
Let’s begin with a quick, whirlwind introduction to our Tweet Time for iOS application. As the name suggests, Tweet Time is a mobile application for the iOS platform which offers users a Twitter based experience. Twitter is officially described as a micro-blogging service, but is more commonly referred to as a social network and is growing at a rapid rate with over 300 million registered and active members. Those users account for over 1.6 billion search queries each day, seven days a week, 365 days a year meaning that the Twitter servers need to handle a staggering amount of traffic annually. Users of an iPhone or iPad will know that the App Store contains a large number of third party Twitter applications, as well as a fairly decent officially developed offering which is promoted by Apple as part of iOS 5.0.
So why Tweet Time? Why another Twitter app? Well, Tweet Time initially started off a small scale experiment in an attempt to gain some familiarity with the new Twitter frameworks that Apple introduced to developers as part of the release of iOS 5.0. The framework contains a number of new classes which allow developers to hook into Twitter services without jumping through all of the authorization hoops that had previously been in place. Tweet Time was a simple framework experiment, undertaken to allow us quick Tweet Sheet access at the tap of a button without the need to wait for bloated timelines to refresh, or errors to be thrown up due to limited cellular data service.
(Version 1.0 of Tweet Time with original user interface)
At the beginning of the development stage we had in mind that Tweet Time would be a one trick pony in that it would simply allow a tweet to be sent, no more, no less. Version 1.0 was pushed to the App Store with tweeting ability pulled directly from settings, nothing more.
Users: We Love Tweet Time, Give Us More
Mobile application users are a wonderfully strange breed of people. With Apple recently announcing that over 25 billion applications have been downloaded since 2008, it is obvious that demand for mobile software is through the roof. When Tweet Time first hit the App Store, we didn’t make to much of a fuss about it. It went live at a tier one pricing point and really only offered one core feature to users. The pricing point was selected because at the time we were only aware of one other application in the store which used the new Twitter framework, and in all honestly, we felt Tweet Time was better. Through shameless self promotion on Twitter (using Tweet Time to tweet of course), the app gained a little bit of early market traction and had a reasonable amount of downloads. However, it was obvious users wanted more.
What could we add to the application without comprising our on the original core beliefs of development? We didn’t want to add a timeline. Plenty of fully functional Twitter clients already exist in the market and we didn’t want to compete with them. We like to think of Twitter as a fun place where users share lots of knowledge and information, so we transferred that theory into Tweet Time by pushing out an update which featured a number of quirky tweeting options:
An excellent user experience based upon simplicity and elegance is something that we also firmly believe in. With that in mind the updated version of Tweet Time featured a totally re-imagined user interface, with neutral but appealing colors and a simple, beautiful and functional user interface designed from the ground up.
(Streamlined and clean user interface)
That’s All Well And Good, But You’re Missing Something.
The new streamlined and sexy Tweet Time received positive responses, which translated to App Store reviews and a number of additional downloads, but something was missing. That missing something wasn’t very difficult to spot, with an update quickly being pushed out to include the much requested image uploading via the native Twitter image APIs as well as full universal status making it a single download for iPhone and iPad. A Separate user interface was crafted for the iPad version and looks simply stunning on the large screen. We decided to raise the price of Tweet Time to a tier 2 pricing point to take into account the additional work needed to produce an entirely new UI by ourselves (for some projects we have a graphic designer to work with clients but in the case of Tweet Time all iPad UI work was done ourselves).
The Present And The Future
Apple just announced the release of the new iPad which has a beautiful, high-resolution Retina display. Although it has been said before, this literally changes everything for developers and especially where Tweet Time is concerned as the existing iPad version is relatively new but would have immediately looked out of place on the new tablet.
Prompt and decisive action was needed and after a day of being buried in Xcode, Photoshop and Illustrator and consuming vast amounts of Red Bull, Tweet Time version 2.3 has been born with full Retina iPad compatibility and a few secret enhancements which users will need to find themselves.
The price of Tweet Time will also be reduced back to a tier 1 pricing point as soon as version 2.3 goes live (it may have already happened, go check and see).
What started out as a technical experiment one dreary Sunday afternoon has turned into quite a popular, beautiful and universal application which supports all devices capable of running iOS 5 and above, has four custom built and tweaked user interfaces depending on the device used and has a number of unique and fun options which no other application of this type has. A case of organic mobile app growth at its finest and confirmation that simplicity is indeed the ultimate sophistication.
About the Author: Paul Morris works for Little Red Door – a specialist iOS development studio in Newcastle, England. You can view their AppBooker profile at AppBooker.com/LittleRedDoor