For many of the apps that we use on a daily basis, there’s a stark disparity between how they show up on our mobile devices, and how they look when we open them up in the average web browser. Twitter is among those that seems to take on a very different form, and as we’ll find out in our brief guide to the Twitter desktop site and app, there are some good reasons for it to do so. Many users don’t know that you can actually access the desktop site from your mobile device almost as easily as you do on your desktop or laptop! We’ll discuss the differences between both, how they affect you as a user, and why they show up differently in the first place.
If we’re talking about the difference between mobile sites, desktop sites, and applications, the name of the game is optimization. Without it, the different grades and types of hardware that are tasked with running these sites and apps can run into all kinds of trouble. With it, everything is smooth as butter.
It mostly boils down to what different mobile devices and computers are capable of, and what they run best. When you’re dealing with online activity, it also has to do with the amount of data being downloaded for a particular task. Pardon our wading into momentarily techy waters (it’s sort of what we do here, after all), but the different versions of Twitter that you’ll run into all operate using various amounts of data.
Let’s break it down a bit further. When you load up the Twitter website on your desktop computer, it’s full of graphics, it loads fast, and scrolling through your feed is a breeze, right? Well, Twitter also assumes that your desktop computer is going to have both greater processing speed than your mobile device (loading that site faster) and access to unlimited data (because you’re connected to the internet locally.) The game changes when you start doing the same stuff on a smartphone.
Try opening up a browser on a mobile device, and Twitter is going to look a little bit different. Compared to the desktop version, it looks “condensed,” with a more tightly-packed feed and fewer visible graphics on the screen at a time. The same goes for the Twitter app; while it functions mostly the same, it’s lacking a fair bit of visual flair and the social media service’s options are tucked discreetly away. This is due to the necessary consideration of two things. First, if you’re on a smartphone or other mobile device, there’s a good chance that you might be carrying out your online activity over cellular data–you pay a premium for that stuff! Therefore, these optimized versions of Twitter help to tone down the amount of data you’re using. Secondly, your mobile device just isn’t as muscular as your computer, and even though Twitter seems like a simple site (because it is), you’re still demanding processing power and battery life in order to load it.
Optimization, then, is all about making this software work at its very best to fit the hardware that it’s running on. It’s standard-fare stuff for software developers, but it can often throw the average user for a loop. It might be easy to switch back to the desktop version of the Twitter website, but the option isn’t made particularly visible.
Desktop Twitter on Mobile
Of course, we wouldn’t go to the trouble of this entire guide just to talk to you about optimization. We want to show you how to circumvent that optimization, so that you can bend your applications to suit your needs, rather than being forced to submit to whatever decisions your websites and applications make for you.
Also, keep in mind that the simple tricks we’re employing here can usually convert any mobile-optimized site into the same one that you’d see on the desktop version of your computer’s browser. Considers these longstanding, technological life-lessons that will help you to be a better smartphone user, eh?
Literally the only complication that we’re going to run into is the same one that you often run into on desktop computers–what browser are you using?
For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to break this section down into two parts, one for Safari users and one for Chrome users. These are far and away the most popular browsers that people are using on mobile devices, and while the process won’t differ too much between them, it’s worth setting them apart for clarity’s sake.
It surprises me, reading about all of the loopholes and workarounds that people put themselves through when they want to load up the desktop version of a site in a mobile browser. I’ve seen modified URLs and oddly cached browser data and…just about everything else under the sun. The reality? A few quick taps are going to see this done without any trouble at all.
- Open up Safari, and head over to the Twitter page. For now, it’s the mobile-optimized version of the site.
- Tap on the “Refresh” button and hold it.
- Select “Request Desktop Site.”
- Revel in your glorious new superpower!
It really is that simple, and though your browser may not automatically bring you to the desktop version every time, it only requires a few taps to do it again.
Doing the same thing in the mobile version of Google Chrome requires a trip to the browser’s menu, but it’s still a plainly visible option, and like Safari, it only requires a few steps.
- Open up Chrome and head to the Twitter website. Like before, you’ll see the mobile version first.
- Tap on the “Menu” button. (It looks like an ellipsis.)
- Select “Request Desktop Site.” (This is getting familiar now, right?)
- Twitter will now reload, and you’ll have access to the desktop version!
All in all, it’s relatively the same process with a slightly different menu and settings access, due to the two browsers being quite different. Don’t forget that you can repeat the same trick on any mobile-optimized website in order to access the desktop version!
The Twitter app, on the other hand, is a whole different ballgame. Rather than being the optimized version of a website, it’s designed from the ground up to embrace a specific appearance, all of which is designed to meet the needs of mobile users. Therefore, it’s lightweight, minimalistic, fast, and concise. If you’re put off by the condensed nature of the optimized version of the Twitter website, there’s a good chance that you might not find the mobile app appealing, either; the two are very similar, after all.
Because it was designed from the ground up for smartphones, though, there’s not a whole lot you can do to alter the appearance or function of the actual Twitter app. Instead, I would offer that, due to its design, it’s the perfect companion to the Twitter desktop experience. After all, no matter how well optimized the mobile app is, it doesn’t give you the screen real estate necessary for digging through the deeper options in Twitter’s menus, or the ability to manage your account and profile settings.
Thankfully, there’s no actual aspect of Twitter that the mobile app gives you that’s inaccessible through the desktop version, meaning that if you’d prefer to forego everything mobile, that option is definitely available to you. The only thing that you stand to lose is a few extra megabytes of data from using the unoptimized version of the app.
When paired together, though, you can turn yourself into a veritable Twitter powerhouse. Even years after Twitter’s debut (and far past what was once thought to be the height of its popularity), it remains one of the most prolifically used social media platforms online.
As we close out our little guide, here are a few more tips that might come in especially handy for your Twitter escapades:
- In addition to the three forms of Twitter that we’ve looked at here (desktop, mobile, and app), there’s also an excellent Twitter desktop app called “Tweetdeck,” that allows you to manage all of your Twitter information, your feed, and your followers right from your PCs desktop. If you’re looking for an app, but cramped screens aren’t your style, I highly recommend it.
- On the other hand, if you’re looking for the right mobile device to manage Twitter on and you’re stuck on the desktop version of the Twitter website, opt for a tablet that gives you a bit more screen real estate. Desktop web browsing is a pretty great reason to use an iPad or Android tablet, right?
After our guide, you should have no trouble switching back and forth between mobile and desktop Twitter as suits or needs, or sticking to one across a multitude of platforms. While most people might be stuck thinking they’re pigeonholed into whatever version of Twitter their technology of choice decides to throw at them, that’s not you anymore; every option at your fingertips, right?