Twitter for Mac launches on Mac App Store

Ronny Kerr · January 6, 2011 · Short URL:

Based on the original Tweetie developed by Atebits, new Twitter for Mac is three times faster

Mac owners were treated to a planned software update Thursday that brings the uber-successful App Store back to the desktop. On the original App Store, users download apps to use on their iOS devices--iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad; on the new Mac App Store, users download apps to use on the actual computer.

One of the coolest apps in the store, so far, is an old favorite: Twitter for Mac.

Twitter for Mac

Twitter for Mac is somewhat reminiscent of Twitter for iPad, with the most emphasis rightfully being placed on displaying the stream. The free application can be configured to update tweets in real-time, which actually saves users a step versus Twitter on the Web, where one must click to refresh for more tweets.

Besides the tweet timeline, users also have access to mentions, messages and lists. User profiles are also accessible by clicking on avatars. Clicking the magnifying glass opens up the search function, naturally, but it also displays the top trends on Twitter.

My favorite part of the app is the menu bar button (the little Twitter logo in the upper right of the screenshot). By default, the little bird will change from black to blue when new tweets, mentions or messages are received. Clicking the button lets the user either go to the Twitter app or create a new tweet. The button can also be reconfigured (in the app’s preferences) to serve as a “show/hide app” feature.

Twitter for Mac was originally called Tweetie, an application developed by third-party Atebits. Twitter acquired Atebits last year and quickly rebranded Tweetie for iPhone as Twitter for iPhone. It took them a little bit longer to roll out the desktop version. The new version is three times faster than the original, according to Twitter.

All in all, an elegant and comprehensive app. This one will be open on my desktop quite a bit.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.