Twitter announced today it will begin testing a new set of features for TweetDeck, the company’s often-ignored social media dashboard aimed at Twitter’s power users, which Twitter may soon turn into a new subscription service. According to a post from Twitter Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour, the revamped version of the Twitter client will include a full tweet composer, new advanced search features, new column types, and a new ways to group columns into clean workspaces.
We’re testing new features in TweetDeck for a small group in the U.S., Canada and Australia. These include a full Tweet Composer, new advanced search features, new column types, and a new way to group columns into clean workspaces. https://t.co/7bTiwBPmea
— Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz) July 20, 2021
Beykpour earlier this year had teased Twitter’s plan to introduce an overhauled version of Tweetdeck. In an interview with The Verge, he admitted that Twitter hadn’t “given TweetDeck a lot of love recently,” but said that would soon change with a revamp, which he then described as a “pretty big overhaul from the ground up.”
The update appears to be making good on that promise with a handful of notable changes.
For example, Twitter tells TechCrunch the new tweet composer will allow you to add GIFs, polls, or emojis to your tweets, including scheduled tweets, not just photos and videos, as before. You will also be able to write threads and tag your images.
In addition to the large list of existing column options, users can will be able to access new column types including Profile, Topics, Explore, Events, Moments, and Bookmarks. Unfortunately, this seems to have come at the expense of other column types, including Activity, Followers, Likes and Outbox, which have been removed.
The new advanced search feature lets you use boolean queries. And you can now choose between viewing either the top tweets or the latest tweets in the first columns.
But one of the app’s more clever new additions is a feature called “Decks,” which will allow you to organize sets of columns into separate workspaces. This could help users who want to create different workspaces associated with different themes or interests. Or, for social media managers, it could help them keep up with tweets related to their many different clients, perhaps.
Despite the benefits some of the changes could provide, a number of responses from testers who gained access to the new TweetDeck weren’t all that positive. Users are complaining in particular about the loss of the “Activity” column option which shows whenever anyone you follow on Twitter favorites a tweet or follows another user, as well as the missing messages column.
Others are annoyed that the Timeline defaults to top tweets instead of new tweets, that you can’t create a column for your direct messages, and that collections are gone. Some said it’s too difficult to resize the columns and they couldn’t figure out how to use it with multiple accounts. Others said it needed a bottom scroll bar and the ability to turn off images. As one user put it, “[This] isn’t a new TweetDeck. It’s a multi-column Twitter.”
Worse, a post from TweetDeck itself about the update appeared to show a completely different type of app than what people were used to — with wide columns and a very large photo image taking up too much space. These would be the sort of changes that would ruin the information-dense experience most TweetDeck users prefer.
However, a more reassuring screenshot from Twitter employee Eric Zuckerman, who works in news partnerships, showed off a version of the new TweetDeck that looks very much like the app people know and love, with tight columns, smaller images, a smaller font size.
I've been using the new TweetDeck preview for 9 months. If you're a longtime user and thrown off by the image below, rest assured you can customize your columns to look and behave very much like the version you know and love. For example, here's mine: pic.twitter.com/i9bT1Mkfr8https://t.co/16dHgdVXAQ
— Eric Zuckerman (@EricZuck) July 20, 2021
Twitter’s post also promoted the updated TweetDeck as something that would “incorporate more of what you see on Twitter.com,” which further confused and concerned many TweetDeck users who replied by pointing out that they use TweetDeck because it doesn’t look or operate like Twitter’s web app and is free of the many extra features Twitter introduces.
A Twitter engineer, Angelo Tomasco, clarified that the changes aren’t only about making TweetDeck “look more like Twitter” — they’re about a shared infrastructure that will bring health and safety updates to TweetDeck and allow Twitter developers to spend less time playing catch-up with Twitter so they can instead build out new features and address user feedback.
It's not only about making it "look more like Twitter". The shared infrastructure brings all sort of health and safety features out of the box, and we as developers have to spend less time to play catch-up and more time to develop new features and address feedback.
— Angelo Tomasco (@angetomasco) July 20, 2021
Whatever your opinion, you can at least be assured that the version of TweetDeck arriving today to testers is not the final product.
Twitter says it will roll out the new version to a small group of randomly-selected people in the U.S., Canada, and Australia to start. (Of course, app researcher Jane Manchun Wong has already found a workaround for that limitation, if you’re interested!)
And Twitter says it will listen and respond to user feedback about the changes.
It will have to, in fact, as Twitter tells us this test is about exploring how it could make TweetDeck a part of its subscription offerings in the future.
“With this test, we hope to gather feedback to explore what an enhanced version of TweetDeck could look like within Twitter’s subscription offerings later on,” a Twitter spokesperson said. “We’ll have more to share later as we learn from this test,” they noted.
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