Twitter apps for iPhone and iPad get major update, including 'Quick Bar'

Twitter has released significant updates for its iPhone and iPad apps, including user interface tweaks, direct message conversation view, a friend finding tool and a Quick Bar for trending topics.

Got Twitter's official app for iPhone or iPad? If so, there's a new update to download that introduces a bunch of new features, including a redesigned tweet screen, a tool to find people to follow based on your phone contacts, and a swipeable 'Quick Bar' to show currently trending topics at the top of your homescreen.

Twitter says its iPhone app is now the third most popular way to access the micro-blogging service, behind only the main website and the mobile Web version. That app went live in May last year, as a relaunch of existing iPhone app Tweetie, which the company bought in April.

This week's update -- version 3.3 -- includes a redesigned New Tweet screen, which is a bit simpler, with clear icons for mentions, hashtags, photo attachments and turning on the 'share my location' feature. Links are now automatically shortened when you paste them into the Tweet box, rather than making you tap on a pop-up menu to do it.

The app now tries to autocomplete Twitter usernames and hashtags to speed up your tweeting, and the Direct Messages section now groups DMs by conversation, much like the text messaging app on iPhone. Even if you fear change, these tweaks seem sensible, and make the app more usable.

There are two more major features in version 3.3. The first is a Follow Your Friends tool, which scans your contacts and tries to match up their email addresses with Twitter accounts, to help you follow them. It's useful, although if like us you've synced your iPhone contacts with your entire Gmail contacts, it takes a little while to do the necessary contact-crunching here.

The last big feature is iPhone-only for now, and it could be more controversial. It's called Quick Bar, and hovers at the top of your main tweetfeed on the app's homescreen, showing currently trending topics. You swipe left and right to see what else is being tweeted about right now (at the time of writing: BNP, Blue Nun and #blackpeoplemovies, which sounds like a recipe for an eventful night out).

It feels rather intrusive at first, especially when the topic is promoted (ie, an ad). That said, it disappears when you're scrolling down and up your feed, and we'll probably get used to it. Be warned, though, there doesn't appear to be a way to turn it off if you don't.

Twitter hasn't said when (or if) these changes will be reflected in its apps for Android , BlackBerry and other smart phones. Got the iOS versions? Let us know what you think of these changes by posting a comment. With or without references to right-wing political parties, German wine or racially oriented film satire.

 

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