Talking Twitter with TweetCaster Developer OneLouder
If you’re a Twitter junkie, odds are you’ve heard of TweetCaster, a popular Twitter client. The developer behind the app and its other Caster siblings is OneLouder, the social media arm of Handmark Inc., and while the subsidiary is not even a year old, OneLouder is getting a bunch of recognition for its socially stimulating apps. In February, OneLouder was awarded Top Developer status in the Android Market powering three of the top 15 social apps in the marketplace. Its work on the iOS platform is stellar, too.
With a killer Twitter app like TweetCaster, OneLouder practices what it preaches—the developer has more than 2 million followers on Twitter. With this massive popularity combined with its constant updates and diverse compatibility amongst operating systems, TweetCaster has made a name for itself as one of the best Twitter clients. We caught up with Josh Sitzer, marketing director at OneLouder who played an integral role in the development of TweetCaster, to talk about what makes TweetCaster stand out.
- There is no shortage of Twitter apps out there! In your opinion, what makes TweetCaster a must-have app?
TweetCaster is great because we listen to our users and implement changes, fixes and new features they really want. OneLouder has more than 2 million Twitter followers, most of whom use TweetCaster, so as you can imagine, we have a constant flow of feedback every day. This feedback is the basis for about half of our development roadmap.
The other half comes from us at OneLouder. We aren’t just developers—we are Twitter freaks. So, we get to build features that we want to use. Some of the more innovative aspects of TweetCaster come from particular problems that we find and want to solve. We release a new update to TweetCaster about once a month, constantly innovating and improving.
- TweetCaster incorporates a variety of special features that other Twitter clients do not. These include Zip It, Instapaper support and Facebook integration. What’s OneLouder’s process for coming up with new features? Are they answers to user requests, OneLouder’s critiques or mobile trends?
Our features come from user suggestions, competitive research and our own Twitter use. As we build our development roadmap, we cull all the suggestions from these sources and select the most impactful ones to implement.
For example, the Smart Lists feature was spawned from a blogger rant. The blogger was complaining about shortcomings of Twitter Lists. We saw an opportunity to do Lists better than anyone out there, including Twitter themselves. And it is. There is no better way to create or manage Lists. I use it every day to keep my Twitter stream organized. Don’t forget to listen to your users. They are the ones who pay your bills!
- What was the biggest hurdle to overcome during TweetCaster’s development process? What features are you most proud of?
It’s always a delicate balance between adding functionality and not cluttering up the app. We constantly strive to keep the UI (user interface) beautiful and the user experience intuitive—all the while adding features and functionality. This is much easier said than done. Some of the battles between our design team and developers can be epic, but in the end, we find a way to reach that balance.
Along those lines, a minor feature that makes a big impact is being able to hide @replies from a profile view. When I look at someone’s profile, I’m generally only interested in seeing their tweets, not their replies. But if someone replies a lot, their timeline is cluttered up with items that are not relevant to me as a viewer. We implemented a simple “Hide Replies” switch that filters out the replies. It makes the profile view 1000% better, in my opinion. And it’s just one of 100 little things we do to make the user experience better.
The feature I use most is Search Party. When I’m searching for something specific, I don’t find regular Twitter search to be particularly useful. But with Search Party, I can limit the scope of my search. For example, I can search just tweets in my own timeline or I can just search tweets of a particular user. These search results are way better.
- By contrast, what TweetCaster features or functions do you think need improvement?
One of our strengths is that we are available across multiple operating systems. This is useful for many of our users who have multiple devices. For example, a user with an Android phone may have an iPad. They can use TweetCaster on both.
However, right now, if you use TweetCaster all day on your Android phone, when you come home and open it on your iPad, the app doesn’t know where you left off. We think this could be better. And we are working on implementing the capability for you to be able to “mark” your place and have TweetCaster remember it, no matter what version you pick up.
- What do you think is the biggest trend in mobile-app development currently and why?
Integration across multiple services and social networks with APIs (application programming interfaces) is a huge trend. There are so many cool services out there, from Pinterest to Instagram to Evernote to Instapaper. Via APIs, TweetCaster can link your Twitter account to lots of these, making your Twitter experience better by linking you to other stuff you care deeply about. This benefits the users, as well as the developers of cool services.
Who’s going to win: Android or iOS, and why?
I try to stay away from picking winners. Too easy to be wrong. I mean, who would have picked my Cardinals to win the World Series last year? Besides, the competition in the marketplace is good for users. The quality of both Android and iOS is far better than it was even six months ago, not to mention two to three years ago. The pace of improvement and innovation is MUCH faster because of the competition.
Apps I Love
Eating Healthy is a Snap with Dr. Oz’s App Pick
Photo credit: Getty Images
Dr. Mehmet Oz, famous cardiac surgeon and star of TV’s The Dr. Oz Show, spends much of his time giving nutritional guidance to his show’s viewers and patients. But we bet he never thought advice could get as simple as “take a picture of your food.”
Dr. Oz told USA TODAY that he likes the Meal Snap app. Just use your smartphone to take a photo of your food in front of you, and the app calculates how many calories you’re consuming. Bam—food recording is done.
Of course, the app is not always 100 percent accurate, but we still think the simple act of recording our food helps us be more conscious of what we’re eating. You can share your meals on Twitter, Facebook and foursquare if you want some extra motivation, and you can even view your eating patterns over time.