The folks at Tapbots have done it again. Tweetbot is a new Twitter client for the iPhone that’s made quite a splash. Not many apps can be described as “joyful UI design” or “an excellent innovator of the Twitter platform.” Some would say the app even “feels like a privilege” to use.

Tweetbot may very well be the app that gives the official Twitter client a run for its money. Let’s take a look…

Overview

Innovation has always been difficult for third party Twitter apps. Ever since Twitter purchased Tweetie and created the official Twitter app, most third party clients were sent back to square one. Clients like Twitterrific have managed to compete with Twitter’s official app, but most can’t deliver an appealing enough package to tempt users away from the familiar.

Tweetbot isn’t the Tapbots team’s first rodeo. They’ve already made very successful apps like Pastebot (one of my favorites), Calcbot (the best Calculator replacement on the iPhone), Convertbot, and Weightbot. Mark Jardine and Paul Haddad know how to make sexy software. Tweetbot spent many months in secret beta testing, and version 1.0 is a rock solid release.

Tweetbot has the perfect blend of the familiar and brand new. The app has loads of personality. It retains basic elements of what you expect from a typical Twitter app, and then it adds its own flare to set itself apart.

Design and Layout

If you’ve used other apps from Tapbots, you’ll recognize the robot feel and industrial style of Tweetbot. Overall, the app uses mechanic animations and squared designs to convey the Tapbots charm. After using Tweetbot, you should notice an even starker contrast with the organic design of the official Twitter client.

The Timeline view in Tweetbot is what you would expect, but Tapbots has done something interesting with the ability to make a Twitter list your main Timeline. Tapping the word “Timeline” will bring up a settings panel to switch your Timeline view to any list associated with your Twitter account.

The second major difference in Tweetbot is the action drawer. When you tap on a tweet, you are greeted with a drop-down panel and a list of options, such as, Reply, Retweet, Favorite, Detail View, etc. The official Twitter client uses a left-to-right swipe for the same type of option panel, so it’s interesting to see Tapbots trying something different.

The implementation of swipe gestures in the timeline allows for two very appealing enhancements. Swiping from left to right reveals Conversation view, which is a great and easy way to see the history of a conversation. Right-to-left reveals a new feature from Tapbots called Related. This window uses a special algorithm to show related tweets. After testing Related out, you’ll notice that its results are really hit or miss.

The profile view in Tweetbot is nice. It’s got all of the options and features you would expect, with some great attention to detail. I like how you can see when you joined Twitter and your Twitter user number.

The “Pull to Refresh” design in Tweetbot is a nice take on the existing interface in the official Twitter client. It makes loading new tweets fun.

Everything in Tweetbot looks and feels pretty, and the sound design is just as delightful. Like all Tapbots creations, Tweetbot is filled with different sound clicks and chirps for actions and notifications. The sounds that Tweetbot plays for different notifications and commands make the app feel more responsive and charming. You can tweak the sounds to your liking in Tweetbot’s Settings.

Features and Options

Tweetbot has plenty of stuff to look at in Settings. As was previously mentioned, you can tweak the app’s sounds. You can also change things like display font size and set options for triple tap (mine is set to trigger a reply window).

The Post in Background feature in Tweetbot is really nice if you want the app to upload your tweets in the background. If you tweet with photos or video, it could take a while to actually upload your tweet to Twitter (depending on your connection). Post in Background will publish your tweet in the background and give you a nice notification inside your Timeline upon completion. If Tweetbot can’t publish the tweet for some reason, it will automatically save it your list of drafts.

The Services panel in Tweetbot has a host of options for image uploading, URL shortening, etc. My favorite aspect of this area is the ability to use CloudApp.

Tweetbot handles multiple Twitter accounts very nicely. And each account has its own customizable settings.

Back in the Timeline, you’ll notice that there are 5 different items by default for Timeline, Mentions, DMs, Favorites and Search. You can actually edit the last two icons and change them to List view and Retweets. Tapbots does something clever here by allowing you access to 4 icons with two tabs.

The Compose window is cleverly designed, and the location features are particularly well done. You have all of the expected options to upload media from your camera roll, take a picture in-app, or view your drafts.

Here’s what some of the options are like for interacting with tweets in the Timeline:

The ability to translate tweets is particularly nice if you follow certain accounts that tweet in another language. The translation tool itself works very well and hasn’t produced a bad result on me once.

There’s one last feature in Tweetbot that stands out. If you don’t check Twitter for a few hours, hundreds and hundreds of tweets can fill your Timeline. The older tweets usually don’t show up because they exceed Twitter’s API limit (For me, on an average day, tweets get lost if they’re published more than 40 minutes from when I last checked.) Since I like to read all of the tweets in my Timeline, I usually end up going to the Twitter desktop app or website to see the tweets I missed on the iPhone.

Tweetbot allows you to see the tweets that get lost in the API time limit gap. Instead of bringing you to the bottom of the Timeline without the option to load any farther, Tweetbot presents you with a visual gap in the Timeline that can be filled by tapping the blue “+” icon. That feature alone is absolutely brilliant.

Because of that ability in Tweetbot, I can now catch up on the older tweets that I’ve missed throughout the day. Tweetbot has made my Twitter experience on the iPhone much more efficient.

Cons

Although Tweetbot is about as good as it gets, it’s still not perfect. The biggest lacking feature for Tweetbot is native push notifications. Tweetbot can work with Boxcar in a roundabout way to provide a push service, but an app of this caliber should have its own push backend. Landscape view also needs to be added to put the finishing touch on this almost perfect app.

Tapbots is aware of these issues, and they’re hard at work to make Tweetbot even better in the next major update,

“Before you instantly dismiss Tweetbot from having every single feature on the planet, keep in mind that this is version 1.0. We have a big list of features that just didn’t make the first release. Some take longer than others or are just not as important. The bottom line is, we had to ship at some point. We felt Tweetbot in its current state made a good 1.0 and we decided to ship now instead of 2-3 months later. So please be patient with us as we continue to make Tweetbot a better client. Landscape support for composing, viewing images, websites, and videos is coming. We are also looking into our options for native push notifications. We’ve got a big list.”

It’s encouraging to hear that Tweetbot will continue to be improved.

Conclusion

Tweetbot is one of the best Twitter apps that the App Store has to offer, and it’s been out for less than a week! The design is gorgeous, the features impressive, and the user experience is pleasant. Tapbots has a hit on their hands.

It will be interesting to see how Tweetbot disrupts the third party Twitter client market. I know a lot of people are still stuck on older clients like Echofon, and there are still some good competitors out there like Twitterrific and TweetDeck.

I previously used the iPhone to check Twitter when I needed to, now, with Tweetbot, I check Twitter when I want to. Tweetbot makes Twitter on the iPhone fun again.

I can’t recommend Tweetbot highly enough to anyone that uses Twitter and has an iPhone. It’s sexy. It’s new. It’s Tweetbot. And it’s available for $1.99 in the App Store.

What do you think of Tweetbot? Has it convinced you to stop using the official Twitter client? What’s your Twitter app of choice?

  • 8943

    It’s nice but I think they over done the graphics a bit.

    I will still stick with echofon.

  • Great review, Alex!

    Just like the previous commenter, I think the graphics are overdone, but again, it’s Tapbot’s style.

    I’ve been using it since yesterday as a replacement to my favorite Twitter app for iPhone (SimplyTweet). It does work well, but coming from a full-featured app like SimplyTweet, it’s kind of a big difference.

    I guess I just need to break the habit and get used to this new app.

    Because it doesn’t have all the features SimplyTweet has, I’m glad to hear the devs are aware of it and will still be working on making it a better app, with more bells and whistles.

    To be honest though, I think the coverage of this app was overblown. It’s a good app, but it’s not revolutionary.

    Sebastien

    • Sebastien, I’ve seen you mention SimplyTweet numerous times. Tell me please, what is so great about it?

      • A few things I love about SimplyTweet:
        – it’s fast
        – it’s simple
        – TwitLonger integration (I don’t know if TweetBot has that or not)
        – Gives option for RT style (ie RT @… or via @…)
        – 3 customizable buttons
        – customizable navigation icons layout
        – a default email recipient for emailing tweets (which is great because I email myself tweets all the time)
        – ability to reply to several users at the same time

        Give it a try, really. I think it’s the most underrated Twitter app.

  • DIno

    Quite like it. But similar to Twitter for iPhone.

  • Alex,

    Awesome synopsis of an awesome app.

    My main gripe (like yours) is the lack of push. What in the world? Why is this not built into the app? Other than that, I love the UI, and I especially love the sound effects. It’s like the type of Twitter client that MegaMan would use!

    Also, I don’t like how you can’t invoke a URL directly from the time line, that sort of stinks.

    I do think the app has received a *bit* more praise than it deserves, but only a hair or two. It’s a solid app, and is definitely in the conversation for the top 3 twitter clients on iOS.

    I’m an Echofon Pro user, and the fact that the iOS app syncs with the desktop client is a big plus for me. But that’s not really a fault of TweetBot.

    I’ve found myself juggling between the two. I love the sound effects on TweetBot so much that it’s hard to go back to “boring” old Echofon.

    • You CAN actually invoke a URL in-line! You just have to have nimble fingers. Try tapping on a link in the timeline to see.

  • Marcos Kleine

    Cool app but tweetlogix has all tweetbot features plus themes, and the mute function.

  • Yeah the coverage is overhyped. It is not revolutionary and other great clients like Tweetings and SimplyTweet are never mentioned. It does have a great design and is simple to use though so I’m giving it a chance.

  • I’m missing push but enjoying a change from the native twitter app. It’s worth a buy.

  • Having a visible and clickable gap in the timeline is basically the same functionality as the official Twitter app has. That’s not new.

    No push = useless to me.

    • Adam

      Just what I was thinking, the twitter app has this function and without push it’s as much use as the other twitter clients but with a new GUI.
      I tried quite a few twitter apps but kept coming back to the official one.

  • The official Twitter client has the same feature to load tweets in the timeline gap? It just doesn’t look as nice.

    Tweetbot does seem to hold your position in the timeline better though. Maybe that’s why you noticed a difference.

  • I had more than thirty twitter apps on my iPhone, including both paid and free. But after testing and checking all I found official Twitter app is best.

  • Bryan

    Really top notch review. I too love TweetBot. Well thought out and quite attractive. I have been a user of Echofon. I love the ability to open links in Readability – a lot – since my old eyes complain a lot on the small iPhone screen. Still, I have been using TweetBot the past several days and love it. It is refreshing, and as has been said – it makes Twitter fun again.

    My wish list – add Readability like the great implementation on Echofon. Give us an Extra large font choose. App is young and we’ll see. For now – TweetBot is on my dock replacing Echofon. But, we’ll see if Readability trumps great design, in the long run.

    • Thanks for the informative comment. It does suck when you’re tied to one service and you almost can’t use an app if that service is not supported.

      I would recommend trying Instapaper as a Readability alternative, that is, if you want to stick with Tweetbot, Instapaper is an essential part of my online life.

  • Chuck

    Great review Alex. Quick question though. Where can I get a pixelized avatar picture like yours, Alex?

  • Mike

    I Think Echofon Has it all … and still the best Twitter App … and its FREE …

  • iKing

    Alex or Jeff h

  • iKing

    Wow so i failed? Lol To Alex or Jeff how did you guys make Ur avatar look like that?
    Oh yeah sweet review for a great app.

  • You can get your pixelized avatar like Alex and Jeff on eightbit.me.

  • Horkboy

    Does anyone know of a twitter client with native realtime push of timeline tweets? Not just push of DM’s and Mentions. And not third-party generic app like Push 4.0.

  • bacteria82

    One more thing that Tweetbot was laking, is about the hashtag. For example i want to focus and read about #tsunami, i can only view the tweets but cannot reply to the hashtag instantly. I have to go back to my timeline and tweet and click back to #tsunami to view again tweets by others. Osfoora can do better for this matters.

    Or maybe i couldn’t find how to do that?

  • Steve

    You had me at hello.

    You lost me at $1.99. 😉
    But only because I’m not a big Twitter user, this app does look really nice!

  • Stevie May

    It’s really good better than the actual twitter app

  • c0edx

    I would like to try it before I buy it. No lite version : ( and yes I don’t do cracked Apps.

  • Rainrose

    Tweetboot lacks the most important feature: twitlonger

  • I love ths app, but i cant buy it, coz i dont have credit card. 🙁
    I need u’r help.
    who can gift me ths app? Iam very glad if u gift me this app to fahry.e29@gmail.com
    Please help me?!