One short year ago, Tapbots announced that they had started working on a new Twitter app: Tweetbot. Twitter had just announced that they were buying out Tweetie, and soon turned it into the new free Twitter for iPhone. Since then, Twitter has made it obvious that they want their own apps to be the only standard consumer Twitter apps, and recommended developers find other things to focus on.
Overall, though, Twitter for iPhone is still a nice app, and is quite popular. However, it has had some recent problems including the recent addition (and quick removal) of the extremely unpopular Quick Bar, which showed trending and promoted topics on the top of your tweet stream. Even though Twitter has now removed the Quick Bar, the episode has left many iPhone users considering other Twitter apps again.
The stage was set for an all-new Twitter app to be released. And Tapbots stepped up to the challenge.
Meet the Fourth Tapbot
Tapbots infuses everything they touch with their own unique design that takes common iOS elements to the next level. Their popular Calcbot, Convertbot, and Pastebot apps are popular for their combination of useful functionality with beautiful design, and have inspired the design of many other apps in the App Store today.
Tweetbot, the newest member of the family, is no exception. Their fourth app (apparently since it was announced before Calcbot), Tweetbot includes a 0004 branding under it’s main background texture, one of many delightful design touches. In fact, when you go to add your Twitter account to Tweetbot, make sure to enter your password incorrectly just to see the error box. If your account info is incorrect, you’ll see a standard notification that lets you know the info is wrong, which then drops away instead of simply fading. Beautiful!
While there’s only so many features you can include in a Twitter app while still keeping it simple, Tweetbot includes enough new tricks to fill a small intro tutorial when you first log in to Twitter on the app. Swipe through the pages to see the unique features, including timeline list selection, conversation and related Tweet views, special features for double and triple taps, and more that we’ll look at below.
Not Just Another Twitter App
When you first get to your account, it’s easy to think that Tweetbot is just a close cousin of Twitter for iPhone with a slightly different style. You can pull down on your list to refresh the timeline, or tap a tweet to reply, retweet, favorite, view included links and media, or add a link to your Instapaper account. You can also double-tap on a tweet to view the full tweet with additional info, or triple-tap on a tweet to instantly reply.
Keep digging though and you’ll find more and more unique features that set Tweetbot apart. The most unique feature is the conversation and related tweets views that let you see the whole conversation around any tweet in your timeline. Swipe to the left over a tweet to see related tweets include replies from others to that tweet, or swipe right to reveal the conversation so you can see what you’ve missed. This is the best way I’ve seen to get the whole conversation from a tweet, on any platform.
Then, the next biggest unique feature is the option to set your timeline to display the tweets from any of your lists. Tap the Timeline button to reveal all of your personal lists and the lists from other you subscribe to, then select the one you want to see. This is a great way to catch up on tweets on the topics you care most about. Best of all, you could just use a list as your main timeline if you follow too many people to keep up with. If you’re a heavy Twitter list user, this alone could be worth Tweetbot’s price.
Do More With Twitter
On the bottom right, Tweetbot includes two customizable buttons. Press and hold to reveal the extra options, and the button on the bottom will change to show your most recent choice. Between the two, you can see your lists, favorites, retweets, and searches. The lists view here lets you edit your lists, while the search pane lets you find tweets or users quickly. Plus, checking the retweets list to see which of your tweets have been recently retweeted can be a great ego boost!
As mentioned before, you can double-tap on a tweet to view more info about it, including its time, the client it was sent from, and who retweeted it. Tap on an icon or the Twitter name under a tweet in full view to view a full profile page for that user. Here you can quickly see their site, add them to a list, view their recent tweets, followers, favorites, and more. There’s so much to explore here, you’ll never need to go to the Twitter web interface to find out anything about a user or tweet!
You can even include more info in your tweets with Tweetbot. Add as many images as you can fit in one tweet, and they’ll all show up in a small preview bar on the bottom of your tweet editor. If you need to save a tweet for later, Tweetbot has a robust draft tweet system that makes it simple to edit and send draft tweets. Tweetbot works great with multiple accounts, too. Just tap the back arrow on the top of your timeline to view and switch accounts, and click Edit to rearrange, remove, or add new accounts.
In the buzz on Twitter about Tweetbot’s launch, one common complaint was that many thought it didn’t include URL shortening and Instapaper integration. As it turns out, Tweetbot has an extensive settings section that includes these and more. To get to the settings, tap the back arrow on the top of your timeline, then select Settings under your accounts list. You can tweak sounds, font size, tap settings, and more from the main section, then select your account name to choose your URL shortener, image and video upload services, and add Read it Later or Instapaper integration.
The URL shortener doesn’t let you sign in with your Bit.ly account, though interestingly enough it does let you use CloudApp as your URL shortener. Additionally, while Tweetbot doesn’t support native push notifications, you can add Boxcar support for instant notifications of new tweets if you’d like.
So is it time to dump Twitter for iPhone? While most of Tweetie’s original goodness is still in Twitter’s flagship app, Tapbots showed that it’s not the absolute best a Twitter app can be. I’ve fallen in love with Tweetbot’s interface and features, and don’t plan to switch back. It’s good enough to have jumped to the 5th most popular paid app on the App Store only a day after launch, and with it’s solid ratings, it looks like plenty of other users think the same. If you’ve made the switch, or decided to pass, let us know why in the comments. At the very least, Tapbots proved that 3rd party developers can still innovate on the Twitter platform!