Twitter iPhone apps are a dime a dozen. On my iPhone alone I have 6 Twitter clients. So what were Tweetbot thinking when they decided to develop a Twitter iPhone app?
They probably thought they could do a far better job than Twitter’s official app, and the dozen of other pretenders to the throne.
If the hype is anything to go by, it looks like Tweetbot will slingshot its way to become one of the top 5 Twitter apps for iPhone in the blink of an eye.
After spending 5 minutes using Tweetbot, I can certainly see the attraction. The interface takes a dark approach similar to that of Twitter and Osfoora. But where Tweetbot’s UI outshines (pardon the pun) other apps is in its shiny, smart, elegant and refreshing design that incorporates many hand gestures.
I love the attention to detail in the refresh and loading icons. A really top-notch design job by the Tweetbot crew.
Where Tweetbot outperforms its peers is in the timeline. The best feature of Tweetbot takes one of the worst and underused features of the Twitter website; lists. I hate lists. I never use them. Within Tweetbot, if you click on “Timeline”, you are presented with all of your lists in an ordinarily manner. Clicking a list will load the activities of those on the list in place of your normal timeline.
Within two clicks I have loaded a totally new timeline that features tweets filtered by those featured only on my list. This is a great feature if you are a Twitter busy-body and want to only see Tweets from your friends or from a certain segment of your followers. Finally I can see the attraction of using Lists. +1 for Tweetbot.
Tweetbot takes a more conventional approach with the standard menu items you find in all Twitter clients. A menu bar sits on the bottom of the App screen and features a link to view your timeline, replies, direct messages. You also have two customizable buttons in which you can choose your own menu items. You can select between lists, search and retweets for the final two steps.
A lot of people are going crazy about this customizable feature but I’m not too impressed. I don’t really get it. So I can choose 2 of 3 links to appear in two menu slots? And one of those menu items is a link to lists that is already featured as a fixed link in the top menu?
Mmm. Okay. It’s nice to be able to choose a menu item but it’s nothing to get overly excited about in my opinion. It doesn’t greatly add to my experience and if anything is a redundant feature. If I setup my menu properly I would only be missing out on one link.
I’m a big fan of Twitter’s swipe gesture that presents you with reply, retweet, favorite and link/share options. Tweetbot has its own take and offers a click to drop-down menu. If you click on a tweet, a menu appears as a drawer below the tweet with menu items for reply to tweet, retweet, favorite, link/share, and a more link to view the profile of the tweet owner.
Personally, I much prefer the way in which the Twitter iPhone app handles interacting with tweets. I love being able to swipe a tweet with my thumb in order to reply and retweet. I find a thumb swipe to be a much more natural gesture on the iPhone. Especially since I’m holding the iPhone in my right hand and I have my thumb free for use. With Tweetbot you have to click (or press) the screen to bring up the drawer. While this is functional and works, it just feels like the kind of gesture you would expect with a desktop app where you use your mouse to click. It’s not very iPhone-y.
But, that’s not to say you can’t swipe tweets. In Tweetbot when you swipe to the right you are presented with “Related Tweets”. This is basically all replies to the author. This is a very useful feature that allows you to easily follow a discussion. You can also swipe left and this shows the very last reply to the original tweet.
If you double-tap on a tweet you are brought to a mini-profile page of the tweeter that basically acts as a gateway to view the full profile of the tweeter. This doesn’t really add much to the experience of using Tweetbot but the page is very pleasantly designed if it does just repeat features.
One of the silliest features is “Triple Tap”. Tap three times on a tweet in order to quickly bring up the messaging interface in order to reply to the tweet. This is pretty hard to do. More often than not trying to triple click the screen resulted in an epic fail for me. You can customize the triple tap feature and choose for it to display the reply screen, retweet, favorite the tweet, or to translate the tweet.
The final gesture is a long press. Pressing and holding your finger against a tweet will bring up a sharing screen. I would much prefer customize Tweetbot so that a press and hold gesture brings up the reply screen instead.
The verdict. Tweetbot is a solid Twitter client with some great features and is the first ever app to make sense of Twitter Lists for me. I’m not entirely fond of the drawer menu but the speed, responsiveness, and overall design experience makes Tweetbot a top contender to become my #1 Twitter for iPhone client. I’m going to spend some more time getting to grips with its quirks before deciding whether or not to leave Twitter iPhone app for Tweetbot.
Overall rating: 7.5/10.
- Slick design
- Super fast
- Easy to access lists
- Multiple timelines powered by lists
- Fully functional and settings-centric iPhone app for Twitter
- Great handling of fetching new tweets
- Easily follow conversations through related tweets
- No auto-complete when you add @ to a tweet (you have to click and search)
- Personally, I prefer a swipe menu on tweets rather than a drawer
- Triple tap is hard to do. Double tap or long press would be better
- Can’t customize single, double, or long press gestures
- I found it difficult and not very intuitive to add a second account