Twitter clients were once one of the most popular apps on the App Store. In the time of Tweetie, there were more options than most anyone could keep up with. At that time, one of the more popular options was an app named Osfoora — strange name, particularly for a category where most apps included a play on the word Twitter.
Osfoora hung around for some time, but ultimately fell behind as apps like Tweetbot, Twitterrific, and Tweetie 2 become more popular. Then, Twitter bought Tweetie, and roughly two years later started throwing up API limitations for developers of third-party apps. It is in this ecosystem that Osfoora 2 has been released; can it compete?
Osfoora 2 is an iOS 7 app. The design is light, the iconography is light, and the typography is light. Nothing heavy-handed exists in the app.
The layout is simple, and somewhat reminiscent of Twitterrific. In Osfoora, you swipe to the right to reveal a sliding panel that lets you navigate through the app — this keeps the main screen where Tweets are shown clean, with more space for your content than in apps like Tweetbot, but with the downside of hiding common controls behind a gesture.
In Twitterrific, this is particularly problematic as performance isn’t always snappy. Osfoora doesn’t suffer from this particular issue — the “s” in Osfoora may as well be for “snappy,” because the app never slows down. Gestures, taps, and commands are immediately recognized and acted upon, even when dealing with long lists of Tweets or users.
There are two ways to compose a tweet in Osfoora. The easiest is also the most simple: just tap the compose icon in the top right of the app. Additionally, you can swipe as if to refresh the feed, but hold until a compose view pops up. This particular gesture seems strange to me, as it isn’t any faster than tapping the icon. It may be useful for times when you want to compose a Tweet without looking at the screen, but that seems a fairly extreme use case to optimize for.
While other apps have adopted a gesture to interact with or engage in individual tweets, Osfoora keeps it simple: swipe to the left to reveal a sliding panel with more, retweet, favorite, reply, and conversation options.
A small touch that I enjoy: you can tell if new tweets are available from anywhere within the app thanks to a small blue dot on the top toolbar.
My biggest gripe with the design is that there isn’t a light theme. With more and more apps including both light and dark themes in order to help make content more readable based on surrounding light levels, this is sorely needed.
The circle avatars are also here, keeping Osfoora well within line of the latest design trend that Apple kicked off. It’s not, by any means, offensive or annoying, but it is amusing that this style of avatar has almost entirely taken over any messaging app on iOS.
Osfoora includes the expected features of a first-class Twitter client. Streaming works when on WiFi, which is particularly useful, as any user of Tweetbot knows.
Over the past week, I’ve used Osfoora instead of my usual client of choice, Tweetbot. I’ve come away satisfied — it’s crazy to see how much this app has matured in its second release. It is now a completely modern iOS 7 app, and a completely modern Twitter app. As Twitter’s own app proves, that’s difficult to do, and the developer deserves major props for it.
Osfoora does what I need it to do. The timeline is fast and smooth, the compose screen works very well, and I can easily view conversations. I can DM specific users when I want to converse in private, and I can quickly browse some else’s profile or timeline.
To my mind, Osfoora prioritizes this simplicity and speed over a massive feature set. Tweetbot, probably the most popular third-party Twitter client in the world, does the speed and simplicity concept well, but it can feel crowded with its vast number of features that most people don’t need.
Osfoora’s other competition lies within Twitter’s own app, and in Twitterrific.
Twitter, the app, is in flux. It seems that Twitter doesn’t know what it wants a mobile experience of its service to be like. There are conflicts likely within the company: should the advertising take precedence over other content, or should the experience of the app be first-rate? Those questions are being decided within Twitter’s headquarters, and the effects of that war can be seen in the amount of design updates that the app has gone through. As it currently stands, the Twitter for iPhone is a poor choice, even at its free price point.
Twitterrific has a few specific features up its sleeve that appeal to some users, but I don’t see it as being nearly as competitive as either Tweetbot or Osfoora. The largest issue I have with the app is the random slow-downs and lag that occurs, even on my iPhone 5S.
If you’re the type of person that liked Twitterrific, I suggest Osfoora: the focus on speed and simplicity will satisfy even the most die-hard users of Twitterrific. If you’re a fan of TweetBot for its features, this isn’t a direct competitor.
As such, Osfoora ranks highly, albeit not as highly as Tweetbot. For my money, I still prefer Tweetbot and find it to be the best third-party Twitter client on iOS. However, Osfoora fills a need that the market has, and frankly, the sheer speed of navigating through Osfoora is its most compelling feature.