Twitter has a shady relationship with developers, it is no secret that Twitter wants their app to be the best and the most full rounded app experience for the social network platform and as a result they have limited developers access to certain API’s over the years which means that third party clients are always those few steps behind no matter how hard they try.
Tweetbot by Tapbots won over a massive number of users in 2011 with a blend of smart design and a strong personality. However as new features arrived on the official Twitter app such as group DM’s, profile notifications, video and photo filters, it was harder for Tweetbot to retain users as developers have been denied access to these new features for their own app.
I have had Tweetbot 3 knocking around on my iPhone for some time now, it is a stunning design. Much more pleasing on the eye than the official app however I have been pretty much using the official Twitter app all the time. Well now Tweetbot 4 has been launched and I have already made the switch back. The official app will remain on my iPhone but it has been dumped into a folder and Tweetbot 4 now sits in the dock on my home screen.
Tweetbot 4 is without a doubt the best third party experience for Twitter that there is. It doesn’t look a whole lot different from Tweetbot 3 – there is some tweaks to the profile design, new animations, the new San Francisco font and landscape mode but it is more or less the same design if you have been using Tweetbot 3 on iOS.
A universal app:
A big change in Tweetbot 4 is that the app is universal. Tapbots has neglected the iPad app and chosen to work on the iPhone app over the past number of years. This has left the iPad app looking seriously out of date. Twitter has recently updated their own iPad app (and it sucks) which has made it look more like a blown-up phone app, so Tweetbot for iPad couldn’t come at a better time.
Tweetbot takes advantage of the iOS 9 multitasking features and has an incredibly clean and modern design. At last we have uniformity present from iMac to iPad and iPhone. Users have been crying out for an iPad app for a long time now from Tweetbot, at last it has arrived and it looks wonderful.
The Activity tab:
This is by far the biggest new feature for me. The main reason I have constantly reverted back to the official app is because of the way in which Twitter collates and displays notifications in their app for things like retweets, favourites and follows. You can see all the interactions going on with your account in one place on the Twitter app in one convenient feed.
This data has not been available to third party Twitter clients and is part of the set of API’s which are restricted to the developers, however Tapbots has engineered their own Activity solution in which co-founder Paul Haddad told theverge was “tons of work.”
The solution is genius, Tweetbot 4 does not replicate Twitter’s functionality here. The Twitter app can group notifications together as one item whereas Tweetbot displays each notification as its own item in the stream. However it is a huge step forward and it makes Tweetbot the first third party app to have in built access to a solid set of analytics.
The activity tap is divided into two parts, “stats” and “activity.” The stats is a weekly graph of activity as each day passes in the week so you can see at a glance in the app where engagement was high and where engagement was low.
Underneath the graph you have today’s activity which lists the amount of favourites, retweets and new followers for that day. Underneath that again you have a list of tweets people have engaged with and the number of likes and retweets that have been received. Pressing on one of these tweets takes you to a view where you can see who has liked and retweeted that content.
The activity tab is a running list of activity which has been happening on your Twitter account from likes to retweets and mentions. When you flip the device into landscape view the two will appear side by side on the app and it looks fantastic.
What does the official app do better?
Tweetbot 4 hasn’t got it all perfect, however that is not through any fault of their own. That is Twitter’s fault due to the limited API’s. The Twitter app will simply do some things better than the third party clients. Tweetbot doesn’t support Twitter Cards which means you won’t see rich media or web previews embedded into tweets. Tweetbot also is unable to give you access to group DM’s and it is unable to group notifications together.
What does Tweetbot do better than the official app?
Tweetbot works the way Twitter should work. The timeline is perfectly chronological, there is no “While you were away” section slotted into the feed randomly when you log back in after some time away. There is no annoying blue lines between conversation partners that you just don’t care about. There are no ads because Twitter doesn’t allow them in third party apps (the one API restriction we all like), Instagram photos display perfectly instead of just an Instagram link being posted in a tweet which you need to click on. It syncs with the other apps on other devices, and the Mac app is not an abandoned piece of junk (which Twitter’s Mac app is).
The one problem standing in the way? New Twitter app features. As Twitter loads up their app with new features, there is no guarantee that third party developers get access to those same features for their own app. Time will tell if Tweetbot can really stay on top, however for now I can safely say that this is Twitter the way it should be.
How can I get it?
Tweetbot 4 is available today from the Mac App Store at the link below.
Android users, sorry. The developers do not have an Android app and they have made it clear in the past they have not intention to do an Android app so this is iOS only. At the moment the app is on sale for €4.99 which is 50% off. When the sale ends it will cost €9.99 which is very pricy for an iOS app (though at the same time far from the most expensive).
It you are an iOS user who loves Twitter then my advice is to pick it up quickly before the sale ends!