I live my day on Twitter. Whether it be learning new information, sharing information, or having great conversations I love the interactions that I get. Part of getting the most out of Twitter comes from using a client that works to present you with the best experience. Let me just get this out of the way: the Twitter web interface sucks. It’s clunky and expends way too much real estate to provide a very minimal amount of useful information. I’m constantly assaulted with who I should be following, what’s trending, and who is paying for their trends to float to the top of the list. I prefer to digest my info a little bit differently.
You may recall that when I used Windows I was a big fan of the Janetter app. When I transitioned to using a Mac full time, I started using Janetter at first to replicate my workflow. I still kept my eyes open for a more streamlined client that I could keep on my desktop in the background. While I loved the way the Mac client from Twitter (nee Tweetie) displayed things, I knew that development on that client had all but ended when Loren Britcher left Twitter. Thankfully, Mark Jardine and Paul Haddad had been busy in the mad science lab to save me.
I downloaded Tweetbot for iOS back when I used an iPhone 3GS. I loved the interface, but the program was a bit laggy on my venerable old phone. When I moved to an iPhone 4S, I started using Tweetbot all the time. This was around the time that Twitter decided to start screwing around with their mobile interface through things like the Dickbar. Tweetbot on my phone was streamlined. It allowed me to use gestures to see conversations. I could see pictures inline and quickly tap links to pull up websites. I could even send those links to mobile Safari or Instapaper as needed. It fit my workflow needs perfectly. It met them so well that I spent most of my time checking Twitter on my phone instead of my desktop.
The wiz kids at Tapbots figure out that a client for Mac was one of their most requested features. So the got cooking on it. They released an alpha for us to break and test the living daylights out of. I loved the alpha so much I immediately deleted all other clients from my Mac and started using it no matter how many undocumented features I had to live through. I used the alpha/beta clients all the way up to the release. The same features I loved from the mobile client were there on my desktop. It didn’t take up tons of room on a separate desktop. I could use gestures to see conversations. They even managed to add new features like multi-column support to mimic one of Tweetdeck’s most popular features. When I found that just before NFD4, I absolutely fell in love.
Tweetbot is beautiful. It is optimized for retina displays on the new MacBooks, so when you scale it up to HiDPI (4x resolution) it doesn’t look like pixelated garbage. Tweets can be streamed to the client so you don’t constantly have to pull down to refresh your timeline. I can pin the timeline to keep up with my tweeps at my leisure instead of the client’s discretion. I even have support within iCloud to keep my mobile Tweetbot client synced to the position of my desktop client and vice versa. If I read tweets on my phone, my timeline position is updated when I get back to my desk. I think that almost every feature that I need from Twitter is represented here without the fluff of promoted tweets or ads that don’t apply to me.
That’s not to say that all this awesomeness doesn’t come without a bit of bad news. If you hop on over to the App Store, you’re going to find out that Tweetbot for Mac costs $20 US. How can a simple Twitter client cost that much?!? The key lies in the changes to Twitter’s API in version 1.1. Twitter has decided that third party clients are the enemy. All users should be using the website or official clients to view things. Not coincidentally, the website and official clients also have promoted tweets and trends injected into your timeline. Twitter wants to monitize their user base in the worst way. I’m sure it’s because they see Mark Zuckerberg sitting on a pile of cash at Facebook and want the same thing for themselves. They key to that is controlling the user experience. If they can guarantee that users will see ads they can charge a hefty fee to advertisers. The only way to ensure that users see those ads is via official channels. That means that third party clients like Tweetbot can’t be allowed to exist.
In order to lock the clients out without looking like they are playing favorites, a couple of changes were put in place. First, non-official clients are limited to a maximum of 100,000 user tokens. Once you hit your limit, you have to go back to Twitter and ask for more. However, if Twitter determines that your client “replicates official features and offers no unique features,” you get the door slammed in your face and no more user tokens. It’s already happened to one client. If you don’t want to hit your limit too quickly, the only option is to make the price in the store much higher than the “casual” user is willing to pay. As Greg Ferro (@etherealmind) likes to say, Tweetbot is “reassuringly expensive.”
I have a ton of apps on my phone and my MacBook that I’ve used once or twice. I paid the $.99 or $1.99 to test them out and found that they don’t meet my needs. When Tweetbot was finally released, I didn’t hesitate to buy it even though it was $20. As much as I use Twitter, I can easily justify the cost to myself. I need a client that doesn’t get in my way. I want flexibility. I don’t want the extra crap that Twitter is trying to force down my throat. I want to use Twitter. I don’t want Twitter to use me. That’s what I get from Tweetbot. I don’t need the metrics from Hootsuite. I just want to read and respond to conversations and save articles for later. Thanks to Twitter’s meddling, a lot of people have been looking for a replacement for the old Tweetdeck Air client that is getting sunsetted on May 7. I can honestly say without reservation that Tweetbot for Mac is the replacement you’re looking for.
I am a paying user of Tweetbot for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These programs were purchased by me. This review was written without any prior contact with Tapbots. They did not solicit any of the content or ask for any consideration in the writing of this article. The conclusions and analysis herein are mine and mine alone.