Microsoft has been in the news a lot over the past year for having crafted the beautiful Metro design language. Metro lends itself very well to all kinds of apps, as demonstrated by early versions of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 7. And they do deserve the credit being showered upon them – Metro is simple, focuses on conveying information and looks great on all types of screens. A number of Microsoft products will likely follow these design principles once Windows 8 is launched – but what if you wanted a taste of Metro right now?
Look no further than MetroTwit, as it presents a brilliant implementation of the Metro UI in its minimalistic Twitter client for Windows. The app layout, fonts and graphic elements all borrow from Metro reducing visual clutter and presenting a lot of dynamic textual information in a pleasing, usable interface. However, not everyone chooses a Twitter client simply on the basis of its looks. Is there to MetroTwit than meets the eye? Let’s try it and find out if it’s right for you.
MetroTwit aims to offer a unique user experience among Twitter clients – it’s not the most feature-packed or the most flashy app out there. Instead it focuses on offering a clean, easy-to-read interface that’s great for personal account users.
The app allows for a fair amount of customization to suit your usage habits, covers all the essential features and then some. The app is constantly updated with new ideas being implemented monthly. MetroTwit requires .NET 4.0 to work and is available for free with ads; an ad-free version is available for AUD$14.95 (with support for multiple accounts in the works).
There’s more than meets the eye with MetroTwit’s interface – options and alternative actions are cleverly hidden away and displayed on hovering over various elements, thus reducing distractions while maintaining functionality.
Once you’ve signed in to Twitter via the app, you can click on the Settings button on the top left to choose your preferred theme (light or dark) and color accents. The majority of window space is dedicated to columns for your timeline, mentions, direct messages and such. You can choose to display or hide as many of these columns as you like, reorder them and resize their widths as you see fit.
The top of the window features a Settings button on the left, a user profile badge towards the right and minimize/maximize/close buttons. The bottom consists of buttons to add columns, view lists, refresh your timeline, search Twitter, search profiles and check out Twitter Trends. There’s also a large space in the center for entering your own tweets, with a subtly-colored character count.
You can also configure the taskbar icon to display unread message counts with a small numeric badge. Every visual element in MetroTwit is well thought-out, and once you’ve got the hang of using the app, you’ll really appreciate the attention to detail that’s gone into developing it.
Tweeting with MetroTwit
At its core, MetroTwit functions like any other Twitter client – it just does everything with a touch more class. For example:
- typed or pasted URLs are automatically shortened in status updates;
- links to pictures and video open pop-up in-app media previews when clicked;
- long tweets are automatically taken care of using TwitLonger;
- tweets can be retweeted verbatim or quoted in a new tweet;
- hovering over buttons brings up explanatory tooltips;
- hovering over profile pictures reveals buttons to reply, retweet and directly message users, and hovering over
- links expands them so you know where your browser will be headed before you click;
- images can be uploaded by simply dragging and dropping them into the Compose box;
- ads are displayed on top of a single column, with a subtly-highlighted background color and in the form of a tweet so you’re not distracted.
You can also add as many columns as you like, and even create columns from others’ profiles, searches, trends and lists by clicking the Pin button on each respective pop-up window.
There’s also a beautiful free companion app called MetroTwit Show which displays tweets related to any number of hashtags you specify or trends you choose, in full-screen with lovely subtle animations. It’d look great on large screens in office lobbies, at conventions and conferences or even on your spare desktop display.
Is MetroTwit Right for You?
At present, MetroTwit is more suited for those who use Twitter for personal networking rather than for business or power tweeting – it’s missing some features like tweet scheduling, updating other networks like Facebook and Tumblr, filtering and blocking content and plugins.
However it makes up for that with a stellar user interface and experience. If you’re like me and use Twitter moderately and appreciate minimalist design, you’ll love MetroTwit.