iOS

Twitter's iOS 5 integration is a disappointment

Twitter's deep integration into iOS 5 was welcomed by professionals who manage social media. Unfortunately, it's missing important functionality.

In many companies, social media has evolved from being a question of "if" to "how," so anything that can streamline social media is a welcome development.

One of the biggest challenges in social media is the mobile experience, especially reading stuff on the web and then trying to share it socially. Sharing is just a lot more clunky and complicated on mobile than it is from a computer.

That's why there was plenty excitement from iPhone users this spring when Apple and Twitter announced that iOS 5 was going to include deep Twitter integration. The promise was that you "sign in once in Settings, and suddenly you can tweet directly from Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube, or Maps."

Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, the implementation is missing some important functionality, especially for social media power users.

The biggest disappointment comes when trying to share articles, blog posts, or web pages from Safari. The good part is that when you click the share button (the box with the arrow) in the bottom toolbar in Safari, that there's now an option for "Tweet" in addition to the old options for bookmarking it, emailing it, or bookmarking it.

The problem comes when you actually hit the Tweet button. Unlike the standard functionality of various share buttons from Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, which pull in the title and description of the web page, the Tweet option in iOS 5 doesn't pull in anything. It just gives you a blank screen. For me, this meant I had to go back to the article and then copy-and-paste an article title into the Tweet window.

That brought me to my next problem. After I clicked "Send" in the Tweet window, I went to Twitter to verify it had posted and I discovered that it didn't shorten the URL (see image on right).

There are a number of problems with this. First of all, it makes you look like a social media amateur, which is especially bad for those who are posting on behalf of a company or brand. Second, it takes up extra characters that could be better used to comment on the link. And third, most professionals prefer to track their shortened links with Bit.ly for the analytics and the iOS Twitter integration doesn't offer the ability to plug in your Bit.ly API key the way you can with Tweetdeck and Seesmic, for example.

I realize the Bit.ly integration is a power user feature and Twitter wants to use its own t.co shortening service so that it can charge companies and professional users for advanced analytics. I get it. Still, Twitter and iOS didn't shorten my link at all, and Bit.ly offers far more basic analytics than the Twitter professional services. So, the lack of proper link shortening and Bit.ly integration is a huge disappointment.

For iPhone users who want to shorten links, I'd recommend using the Bit.ly mobile site (https://bit.ly/m/) or the HootSuite app, which shortens links using its own ow.ly shortener and offers a nice bit of analytics as well.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

4 comments
rhonin
rhonin

Nice write up Jason. For me though..... :) I think I may have used that a couple of times in the past year.... maybe. Big reason why when it was announced by Apple I looked, I saw and promptly ignored.

rfolden
rfolden

I think the great majority of folks couldn't seriously give a rip about twitter. If one tweets, one is by definition a twit.

dizzle
dizzle

And yet, you still felt compelled to read the article after seeing the headline, and post a ridiculous comment on it.