What’s the point of Twitter desktop clients? I don’t have a problem with a browser tab. — Sam Hewitt (@snwh)

I have always been, and shall always continue to be, a huge fan of native desktop apps. While it doesn’t make sense to have a native app for everything, some platforms, like Twitter, can be vastly improved by having a native desktop experience. Inspired by a Tweet from Sam Hewitt, I wanted to jot down a quick list of why they still matter. Please note: I’m partially writing about how it could be, not necessarily how it is. I’m also writing from the point of view of an elementary OS user, although most of these arguments are valid on any system of your choosing. These points should give you a hint at some of the things I’m hoping to achieve with future versions of Birdie.

  • Multiple account support. If you manage several Twitter accounts (in my case, I manage four of them), having an application that supports more than one account is critical. If I wanted to do that on the web, I’d have to have a different tab open for each account, and that experience is clearly sub par.
  • OS sharing services. Want to share a pic from your Pantheon Photos library straight to Twitter? Want to Tweet about the article or webpage you are viewing in Midori? Want to tell the world about a great podcast episode in Vocal? A native desktop app provides a huge potential for native sharing between apps.
  • Native gesture support.
  • Multiple columns. Twitter’s support for wide windows is atrociously bad. Instead of expanding each Tweet to a ludicrous level, why not display multiple columns of information if the window gets stretched wide enough?
  • Better notifications and DND. Notifications from all your Twitter accounts will be available in the new notification center. Click on a notification to respond to a Tweet immediately, or open the notification center again later to see what you missed. Are you in the middle of a project and don’t want to be bothered? Just flip on the system-wide do not disturb switch.
  • Background updates and offline view. Want to check for new messages and updates without getting distracted by all the other stuff? Let the app run in the background and only alert you to tweets you need to see. Also, going on a long car ride with your laptop? Catch up on all the stuff you have missed with offline support.
  • Follow saved searches and hashtags. In addition to your normal timeline, stay up to date with your interests by keeping track of saved searches and followed hashtags.
  • Keyboard shortcuts. 
  • Better in-line media support. Yes, Twitter has added playback for some video sites and added support for inline image viewing from certain sources, but a native app can display media from sites that aren’t Twitter-approved for an even more seamless experience. Plus, you can see them all in a way that just feels more native to your platform.
  • Tweet scheduling. Are you going to be out of town on Saturday night, but want to remind your follows to watch your YouTube video that comes out at 9:00? Set up a scheduled Tweet.

What did I miss? Leave a comment below.