I love Twitter. It’s a fast and efficient social network and status stream based on short messages. And today, the Hawaii-based team at Shacked Software released an app that pairs Twitter’s modern, real-time stream of news with some vintage, old-school technology.
TeleTweet [iTunes link] is a Twitter client that unearths an unexpected and clever connection between Twitter and the classic telegraph, one of the first ways people sent short messages to each other. And while I’ve enjoyed other apps by the Shacked team, including the Flickpad photo browser and the kid-safe YouTube browser Gube, TeleTweet is the most beautiful app they’ve made yet.
You can use TeleTweet as a basic Twitter client, posting updates with a standard keyboard or reading updates as they stream by on a virtual ticker tape. But what makes TeleTweet special is its big, inviting telegraph key. With TeleTweet, you can craft your Twitter posts using Morse code.
Chad Podoski, co-founder and chief designer at Shacked, said in a statement: “We wanted to give our customers the feeling of sitting down at a telegraph office 150 years ago and tapping out a message to a faraway friend. We spent a lot of time getting the look, sounds, and entire experience perfect before we felt ready to release TeleTweet.”
I’ve recently been studying to get my ham radio license. And while you no longer need to know morse code (or “CW,” continuous wave), it’s definitely a skill that old-school geek in me would love to learn.
So while TeleTweet is already a worthy and quirky Twitter client, it could also be a way to pick up Morse code. What better way to get comfortable with a new language or alphabet than using it to communicate everyday messages? Messages that are, by design, mercifully short.
To see it in action, check out the TeleTweet introductory video on Vimeo:
Before today’s launch, Shacked Software’s Jason Skicewicz brought TeleTweet to the fifth annual Hawaii Geek Meet, where he met with some of the app’s most promising potential users: ham radio enthusiasts. I watched in awe as friend, photographer, and ham Keith Higa (WH7GG) indeed managed to tap out a morse code message in the app. The only challenge was finding what speed worked best.
“Right now the teletype is tuned for someone that is just starting out with morse, in terms of cpm, but our hope is to make the algorithm more adaptive in the future so experience individuals can send morse at their full, faster speeds,” explained Podoski.
And Podoski and Skicewicz are very open and responsive to feedback. New user David Cabatu (AH7E) found that the combination CW tone and click-clack typewriter-like sound effect was distracting. The Shacked team said they’d add a setting in a future release.
I have my own suggestions, of course. I think it’d be cool to have the app play the morse code equivalent when I’m typing in letters using the standard keyboard, rather than just when the Twitter message is sent, as a way to help learn the alphabet. And I hope they’ll implement the standard iOS text editing interface so I can insert and select rather than having to hit delete to go all the way back to my mistake. (Though that’s certainly an old-school typing challenge!)
My craziest idea? Letting TeleTweet post Twitter messages in Morse code, and translate incoming messages (tagging them to be easily found across the network). While that would admittedly eat up those 140 characters pretty quick, allowing for only the shortest of tweets, it would be fun to confuse and intrigue others with the geek equivalent of pig latin.
Anyway, even though I’m no morse code expert, I’ve had a blast playing with TeleTweet. You can learn more at the Shacked website, or pick it up in the iTunes App Store for $0.99. And if you download it before April 26 — the day before the birthday of Samuel Morse — you’ll be able to download a free steampunk style Morse code cheat sheet.