Now that I have started to become more active with Twitter, it was essential for me to find a good Twitter app for my iPhone. The problem is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of twitter apps available in the app store. Anyone who has tried to search the app store knows how tedious the process can be. There is no way to sort, and no way to see app ratings in the search results. You must click on each individual app to see the ratings. There are a few websites out there that index the app store contents and make things a little easier, but trying to search for a twitter app is still virtually impossible. I used uquery, searched for the term “twitter”, filtered by 4 stars and above, and only in the social networking category. This returned over 400 results. Expand the query to 3 stars and above and the number of results jumps to over 1300.
Getting frustrated with that search method brought me to Google. A search for ‘best twitter app for iphone’ will return over 79 million results. Out of those results, many of them were well over 2 years old. After weeding through search results, reading iPhone message boards for user suggestions, and browsing through app store reviews I started installing and testing many of the highly acclaimed twitter apps. In total, I must have tested 2 dozen apps over the last few weeks. Some of them were uninstalled within 30 seconds of entering my login information for one reason or another, others looked good at first glance until I found a few missing items that I consider critical, and even fewer have made it into my top 4 which are currently installed on my phone. Each has something it does better than the others, but also something it’s lacking. There is no perfect solution as far as I’m concerned and you will need to determine which features are most important to you. This will not be a comprehensive review, rather a brief description of a few apps that I found usable.
4. Twitter (free)
The official twitter client is a very solid app. First of all, it’s the only free app on my list. It does a good job, but is lacking one very basic feature which I consider critical for any twitter app. Links are not active when viewed in your timeline. You are required to click on a tweet and wait for it to load before you can click any links contained in it. I need to be able to access links without leaving my timeline because it’s something I do all the time.
3. Echofon Pro ($4.99)
Echofon is one of my favorite twitter apps. It was my primary twitter app until Tweetbot was released. I will talk about why later on. The relatively high price may also be a deterrent for some people.
2. Tweetlist Pro ($2.99)
Another very powerful app. For anyone with a lot of lists, you might consider this as your primary twitter app. It excels in allowing you to view and switch between multiple lists very quickly and easily and has most of the other features I was looking for.
1. Tweetbot ($1.99)
Tweetbot is one of the newest twitter apps available and it seems to be getting a lot of attention. When I first tried it, I was slightly underwhelmed, but it is quickly becoming my favorite and most used app of the group. First, let’s talk about what’s missing from Tweetbot. There is no native push notification support, landscape mode is not yet implemented, and there is no support for tweet lengthening services like TwitLonger. The developers have stated that landscape mode is coming, push notifications are more complicated and possibly expensive, but may be support in the future. Their stand on TwitLonger is that it ruins the twitter experience and they have no intention of supporting it at this time.
So, with these things missing, how can it be my favorite twitter app?
The jailbreak community has developed an addon called TweetbotRotator, which enables landscape mode. It works quite well for viewing your timeline, but when composing a new tweet I couldn’t actually see what I was typing. Since the bigger keyboard is the main reason for using landscape mode in the first place, this kind of negates the benefit for me. Regardless, it’s a step in the right direction and I’m glad to see the jailbreak community working to enhance official app store apps.
For those of you who like to post tweets longer than 140 characters, there is another addon called ‘PastieBot’ that will allow you to easily shorten your tweets using pastie.org.
Push notifications can be handled by installing an app like Boxcar. Once installed, you can add your Twitter account, and it will send you push notifications. You can assign any Twitter app you like to open when a notification is clicked. For those with Jailbroken devices, Notified Pro is another great solution.
So, I still haven’t stated what sets apart Tweetbot. There is one feature that I cannot live without, and that is the related tweets and conversation gestures. The best way for me to illustrate the importance of this feature is with a specific example.
Recently, someone who I am following asked a question to his followers. It was a basic question having something to do with a Gmail search query. I knew the answer and responded to his tweet. After I posted my response, it occurred to me that I wasn’t seeing any other replies. You will only see replies if you are following both people involved in the conversation. When I logged into twitter with my desktop web browser and clicked the tweet, I was able to see a whole list of replies in the right hand panel. His question had been answered nearly a dozen times already, making my reply completely pointless. With tweetbot, swiping any tweet to the right will load this same list of related tweets that is visible on the web, allowing you to follow the dialog. Similarly, if the tweet you are viewing is in direct response to a question, swiping to the left will load the entire conversation.
Twitter is all about dialog and getting the input from as many people as possible. The related tweets are a huge part of this and to my knowledge there are no other twitter apps for iPhone with this feature. If I could take Tweetlist, or Echofon and add the ability to view related tweets, one of them would undoubtedly become my primary twitter app . This feature is so important to the twitter experience, that I cannot bring myself to use anything other than Tweetbot at this point in time.
Has anyone found another app that allows you to view related tweets?