Tweetbot 3: A Whole New Personality

Tapbots has enjoyed much success with their third-party Twitter client–Tweetbot. Though Twitter’s own app has the bulk of iOS users, Tweetbot is widely regarded by many as the best iOS Twitter app (The Iconfactory’s Twitterrific 5 being a second contender for the title). Such accolades are certainly warranted, as Tweetbot provides users with a slew of fantastic features (e.g. timeline syncing, muting) that are nowhere to be found in Twitter’s own offering.

When iOS 7 was first introduced at WWDC in June, the stark new design lead many to wonder what Tapbots would do with Tweetbot. After all, the app’s dark and heavy textured design doesn’t lend itself to iOS 7’s focus on simplicity. After months of hard work, Tapbot’s dynamic duo—Paul Haddad and Mark Jardine—put those question to bed with the release of Tweetbot 3.

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New, Not Reskinned

The first thing you should know about Tweetbot 3 is that it’s no mere reskinning of its predecessor. The app was completely redesigned by Tapbots, and as such, they’re asking users to purchase the app again. Most seem content in doing so, but I’ve across a number of individuals that are up in arms about having to drop another $3 (an introductory price that will increase to $5 at a later date). I believe in supporting content makers, whether it’s music, movies, shows or apps, and a $3 price tag, for me, doesn’t even warrant consideration as I tap the Buy button. Because the app is completely new, you’ll need to make a trip into the app’s settings so that you can configure features like notifications and services (e.g. read later, sync and mobilizer) to your liking.

Personality, Redefined

I had a stunned reaction when I launched Tweetbot 3 for the first time, as I’m sure did many others. “It’s really different,” I said to myself, which echoed my reaction to using iOS 7 for the first time. In place of dark, there’s light. In place of texture, there’s a complete lack thereof. Since its inception, Tweetbot has been lauded by its makers as a “Twitter client with personality.” The “personality” to which they refer was the app’s unique design and wonderful sound effects. Now devoid of the heavy textured design that many had grown to either adore or despise, is Tweetbot lacking personality? Hardly.

A side-by-side comparison of Tweetbot 3 and Tweetbot 2.

A side-by-side comparison of Tweetbot 3 and Tweetbot 2.

In lieu of the robot themed design, Tweetbot 3 embraces iOS 7’s focus on simplicity and features wonderful animations that are a visual treat. Selecting the Account view button fades the previous view into the background, blurs the screen, and transitions in account options with a nifty bounce effect–a staple of Tweetbot 3. Previewing an image works in much the same manner, but includes natural physics that allow you to flick the image away in a direction of your choosing. Longpressing the customizable tabs animates the additional options into place, again featuring the fun bounce effect.

Tweetbot 3 does a great job of bringing focus to content or a task at hand.

Tweetbot 3 does a great job of bringing focus to content or a task at hand.

The app also features some useful visual cues, such as dog ears that mark the last tweet you viewed (for the purposes of syncing). I really like small details like this, even though from a visual standpoint the dog ear does nearly collide the favorites icon (if you’ve favorited the tweet). The read position marker also has changed for the better, in my opinion. Instead of a full length banner, a simple number count is displayed in a tab located in the far right.

Previous Tweetbot 2 users will notice some new nice visual cues throughout Tweetbot 3.

Previous Tweetbot 2 users will notice some nice new visual cues throughout Tweetbot 3.

Many individuals see iOS 7 as just the removal of texture and skeuomorphic design, and fail to realize that it’s more about making sense of hierarchy and understanding how each element works with one another. This ideology is a major part of Tweetbot 3, and is one of the first post iOS 7 app redesigns that truly embraces this concept. However, as beautiful and fantastic as Tweetbot 3’s design is, I can’t shake the notion that it’s devoid of any “bot-like” characteristics. While not necessarily a bad thing, it does seems as if Tapbots painted themselves into a corner with their choice of branding.

Both New & Removed

The bulk of Tweetbot 3’s development went into the redesign, so there are very few new features. Be that as it may, the inclusion of background fetch–new to iOS 7–is a great addition that will have your content ready when you launch the app (i.e. no more waiting for content to load). When viewing a user’s tweets via their profile, you now can see tweets that mention said user or view the user’s favorites. These additions help bring Tweetbot more on par with Twitter’s Discover features.

Tweetbot 3 provides a great way to browse other user's activities.

Tweetbot 3 provides a great way to browse other user’s activities.

One feature that’s garnered many complaints is the manner in which text size is adjusted in Tweetbot. Instead of keeping the font size feature that’s available in Tweetbot 2, the app now uses iOS 7’s Dynamic Type setting (accessed in by going to General > Text Size). Haddad stated in a blog post on Tapbot’s website that they’re “working on something,” but didn’t provide additional details. One aspect of Tweetbot 2 that I always found delightful where the sound effects, so much so that I continued to use them when I switched over to Twitter’s app full-time. While still present, they’ve been reimagined (sounding more digitized) and the clicking sound effect used when you engaged with buttons, or other elements, is no longer included. It’s one aspect of Tweetbot 3 that I find myself disliking, and wish I had more control over.

Dynamic Type settings: default size (left) and largest size (right).

Dynamic Type settings: default size (left) and largest size (right).

Tapbots also saw fit to remove a some fan favorite features in Tweetbot 3. First on the chopping block is double and triple taps. Haddad stated that “in order to detect a double/triple, every tap on a Tweet adds a delay while the OS decides if you are doing a single or multiple tap. This lag really impacts the feel of the app in a subtle way.” He goes on the say that workarounds are available, but they cause additional issues and they’re continuing to discuss how it should be handled. The Conversation view (previously accessed by swiping right on a tweet) is also gone, but replies are available in the Details view (accessing by swiping left on a tweet). Accessing lists from the timeline is no longer an option, and viewing and managing lists is now exclusive to the List tab.

The Competition

I reviewed Twitter’s app in June, which ultimately replaced Tweetbot 2 as my full-time Twitter client. Now, having coming back to Tweetbot, there are a number of features I really miss. Syncing is a major pain point in Twitter’s own service, and I’m still surprised it’s never been addressed. I also prefer how Tweetbot provides image previews within a tweet, and fancy the ability to tap links without first having to first switch to the Details view. Also, images seems to load faster in Tweetbot. Tweetbot’s in-app browser is far superior to Twitter’s, if only because you can swipe to return to the previous view and do not have to tap an x icon to dismiss the browser. Finally, being able to search your timeline by a specific keyword can be very handy during a live event (all the Apple love and hate conveniently packaged together during a keynote).

Tweetbot 3 continues to be feature rich, which I've missed a great deal.

Tweetbot 3 continues to be feature rich, which I’ve missed a great deal.

Two areas that Twitter still reigns supreme is the Connect and Conversation view. If you’ve never tried Twitter, the Conversation view conveniently displays information about yourself (e.g. tweets you’ve been mentioned in, your tweets that have been retweeted or favorited, people that started following you). If direct messages were also included, it would be perfect. In comparison, Tweetbot offers the ability to view mentions and retweets in separate tabs. Due to Twitter’s API restrictions, Tweetbot is incapable of going toe-to-toe with the Conversation view, which displays a full thread to tweets associated with a conversation, instead of just replies to a tweet. So, when selecting a Twitter client, you’ll need to consider which features matter most to you.

Looking Beyond 3.0

While answering a handful of questions via Tapbot’s blog, Haddad stated that a night mode will be included in a future update, which should aid in reducing nighttime and early morning blindness while using Tweetbot. Save for a few other possible updates I mentioned earlier, Tapbots is isn’t providing many details about what’s in store for Tweetbot, but Haddad did say there’s a lot to look forward to.

“While there’s a lot of new stuff packed into TB3, our list of actual new features are still on our to-do list and you’ll see many of them roll out over the next few months. Don’t worry, we have a lot of great stuff coming in the pipeline.” – Paul Haddad

The Bottom Line

There’s little doubt in my mind that Tweetbot 3 is a tremendously well executed Twitter client. It’s beautiful, engaging and fun. Even though some features have been stripped away, the app still offers so much to love. I did encounter a few bugs here and there, such as seeing a friend’s favorite count jump to the billions after I unfavorited their tweet or usernames failing to complete when composing a tweet, but those will get ironed out in the next few updates.

As I stated earlier, the new design strips away all “bot-like” characteristics, which still feels a little weird to me. If someone had handed me their phone with Tweetbot 3 already open, it would have taken me awhile to realize that I was using Tweetbot and not some other new Twitter client (the two customizable tabs would have been a giveaway eventually). I know it doesn’t diminish Tweetbot 3 in any way, and I acknowledge that the app has taken on a whole new brand image, but it’s one that I can’t seem to shake for whatever reason.

Regardless, there’s little reason to deny that Tweetbot has been improved for the better, and continues to be a model for quality, paid third-party apps.


Redesigned from the ground-up, Tweetbot 3 continues its reign as the best all-around Twitter client on iOS.