There are a plethora of ways to access Twitter on the iPhone, from the renowned Tweetbot to the social network’s (mediocre) official app. One that’s been around for even longer than the original Tweetie, however, is Twittelator. It was released back in December of 2008, five months after the App Store was unveiled. As one of the legends, Twittelator has a history and includes a surplus of great features.
But today people like well-designed apps over featured ones, which is why Stone, the developer of Twittelator, released Twittelator Neue in October of last year. Not only has the design been altered to have a more modern feel, but the app also aims to change the way you experience Twitter. I’ve been using it quite a bit these past few days just to see if it could be an alternative to Tweetbot. Now, let’s find out.
When you first open up Twittelator Neue, you’ll be greeted with a welcome screen that has a Continue button on it. Just tap that to begin setting up your account. If you already have an account configured in iOS, then all you have to do is tap Ok to begin using the client. If not, just input your credentials as you usually would when logging in to Twitter on the web. Once you’ve got your account all straightened out, Twittelator will ask you if you’d like to follow the designer and developer of the app on Twitter. After that, tap Finish and you’re off to your main timeline.
You’ll have to authorize Twittelator Neue separately by signing in to access direct messages if you plan on using those in the app.
Since the main thing that most people do on their iPhones is Tweet, I thought I’d take a look at that first. Sadly, there’s not much to do in Twittelator Neue’s Tweet screen besides the very basic functions you’d expect to find in any Twitter client: location information, picture uploading, and username and hashtag autocomplete. I know it seems like an irrelevant thing since Twitter is limited to 140 characters, but what ever did happen to supporting services like Twitlonger and twtmore in apps? Some people still use them, you know.
Other than that, accessing drafts is a pain and shouldn’t be in the More (*) tab, it should be in the composing screen. For some reason, image and video uploading are set to Moby by default when the former should at least be on Twitter’s official service. I did like the Facebook feature that lets you publish Tweets to your Facebook Wall as well as your Twitter account, but I never actually used it.
In Twittelator Neue, the main timeline appears a bit differently than you’re used to. No, it’s not a complete experience change like Quip, just some different stuff. For example, the only gesture available is swiping right to left to change the tab you’re in — timeline, mentions, profile, etc. To reply to a Tweet, you can tap it and then tap reply or any other action you wish to perform.
Another way of executing all the actions available in that menu, instead of swiping over it like you’d do in Twitter’s official app, is to simply hold the Tweet. A little menu will pop up, prompting you to take action. Other little perks in this client are inline images, fancy animations, and a nice font. But more on that later.
Search, trends, lists and retweets are available in the More (*) tab.
One thing that was disappointing to me is the lack of support for Readability. Twittelator Neue does support “save for later” services such as Instapaper, Pocket and (this is kind of strange to see) Omnifocus, but not for Readability, which is a very popular option.
I really love what the designer did with the user interface of this app. The icon has a nice, subtle, colorful gradient with a simple blue egg on it and the rest of the app, while not so colorful, is very nice on the eyes. One thing that I really love about using this client are the animations throughout. Pulling down the feed to refresh brings up a beautiful paper-like unfolding animation (below) that gives a different feel to the app.
Inline images in Twittelator Neue are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Instead of having small icon-sized image previews like Tweetbot, this app gives you banner-style ones that are a bit smaller than a one-line Tweet. Other little things like the nice paper texture background, transitions found when composing a Tweet and going to the more (*) tab, and overall feel of polish make this app feel mostly solid, save for little hiccups here and there.
- The sound effects are annoying. For one thing, they’re not subtle enough to just be in the background so you notice them and take little note of their presence. Instead, they have to be rather disrupting with a higher pitch than normal keyboard taps would have. If sounds on your iPhone are turned up quite a bit, then I’d suggest lowering them when using this app because you may find navigating to be irritating.
- What happened to the pull-to-refresh sound effect? It’s not there.
- Push notifications cost $1.99 per year, which is a bit ridiculous. No, it’s not expensive, it’s just absurd that they want to charge you an in-app purchase just to get push notifications when you can get them from Twitter’s official app for free and Tweetbot for the same price as this app. I don’t understand the reasoning behind this, but it should be changed.
- Even though transitions are nice, things do get a bit sluggish and unresponsive when you go to scroll through direct messages. I’m not sure why this happens, but it can be annoying.
- Conversation view seems to cut off the edge of each participant’s profile picture. Not to mention it can be somewhat glitchy here and there.
- And worst of all, since Tweetbot has it, there’s no streaming. It’s also a bit slow at refreshing content streams.
It’s a Good Client, While the API is Around
I’m not sure if you should be spending money on this app, or really any third-party client for that matter, due to the fact that Twitter may be restricting access to third-party clients very soon. However, if Twitter does decide to leave API access intact for existing apps and you want to try out something different from Tweetbot and the official app, I’d suggest trying out the free version of this app, but not purchasing it. In all honesty, I don’t see the app serving its main purpose: to be “a fresher way to tweet.”
Overall, there’s a lack of customization in Twittelator Neue (Oh, and then there’s that push notification charge). I suppose a more modern client should be somewhat feature-free compared to something like Tweetbot, but I just found no reason to recommend why someone should purchase this app save for the fact that it’s a bit “different” than others out there.