System Designs & The New Twitter For iOS

For quite some time I’ve been wanting to write about this as a much wider problem than being specific to a product version, Twitter released a new version of twitter and my timeline is flooded with some strong hatred against it. Power users seem to be having problems with the Quick Trends bar being displayed on top.

Here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Twitter for iOS was Tweetie – a paid app loved by everyone.
  • Twitter bought the app & hired the developer.
  • The app was subsequently made free and ever since people only keep complaining.

The latest version shows the trending topics on top of the screen and the reason to have this seems to be monetization, even Scoble is hearing so. To show trends the bar could either go on top or bottom, imagining the bar at the bottom where I type the tweet seems odd. I am no UI expert but as a user I’d rather have the bar on top.

Since monetization seems to be the reason for this feature, allowing users to turn it off is like Google bundling AdBlock+ with Chrome. It defeats the purpose of adding the feature where the idea is to make money.

Should Twitter start charging for mobile apps & keep the web interface free? That could be a good model, it will even allow 3rd party devs to compete and provide them with some monetization opportunity, right? I’d wager, no. Twitter won’t be able to make enough money selling their app when 3rd party devs would have some free alternatives.

As you see, there are a lot of options and the decision isn’t a black or white. Windows Phone 7 doesn’t save camera settings and loses them when you quit the app. I found this to be a problem much like everyone but then an engineer from the team pointed out the thought behind it and it made sense.

The quick one button shoot capabilities of the phone that are considered to be a USP of the phone need to have the camera set to Auto to be able to take the best picture at the given time. By me having set the ISO, White Balance, AF Mode, Contrast, Flash, Saturation to custom, the picture taken at night in a room would not look as good as one taken outside during the day – which the settings were for.

Google recently removed Reader as an option from their One bar when you are in Gmail, MG Siegler was quick to take that as validation of his years old agenda of declaring RSS dead. Unfortunately, Siegler jumped the gun and later an engineer from the team explained that their statistics showed people don’t use Reader when in Gmail. Google has a team that looks into what goes into the nav bar. The options are dynamic based on which Google apps you are in, these are not random but based on click statistics and other parameters. Siegler didn’t bother, for him the removal meant Schmidt waking up that day and saying RSS is dead, remove the URL from the nav bar.

Fortunately, systems aren’t designed so, thought is put into every decision. Every decision can’t please everyone and hence system design is an iterative process. We need to trust the designers, of course show displeasure but starting hash tags like #DickBar is disrespectful, if you need to take up a real cause, go against Sony for crucifying Geohot.