Tweetbot for iOS (animated GIF 003)Tweetbot for iOS (animated GIF 002)

You’re probably aware that Twitter began supporting animated GIFs via its web interface in mid-June. If so, you may also recall that Twitter’s iOS client has picked up support for this popular file format a mere week later.

The feature isn’t exclusive to the company’s own mobile apps: Twitter soon after updated its API to let makers of third-party clients implement direct GIF sharing via links.

Tapbots’ Tweetbot, one of the best Twitter clients for the Mac and iOS devices, does not officially recognize animated GIFs. That’s why tapping a GIF link in Tweetbot for iPhone opens the detail view for the tweet itself rather than play the embedded animation inline.

This has been driving me nuts – but not anymore. As it turns out, Tapbots yesterday issued a maintenance update to Tweetbot for the iPhone and iPod touch which apparently adds support for animated GIFs via Twitter’s links. Strangely enough, the official release notes make no mention of this nice little addition whatsoever…

As first noticed by Aldrin Calimlim of AppAdvice, updating your Tweetbot 3 copy to version 3.4.1 makes animated GIFs play within the app.

I can confirm that this is true.

With the previous Tweetbot 3.4 installed on my iPhone, I tapped the animated GIF embedded in this example tweet, to no avail. As can be seen on the screenshots top of post, Tweetbot simply took me to the tweet detail view.

Once I updated to the latest Tweetbot 3.4.1, animated GIFs started showing thumbnails inline with a play icon, indicating the media could be played within the app, as shown below. Tap it and Tweetbot reproduces the embedded animated GIF, though still not inline.

Tweetbot for iOS (animated GIF 004)Tweetbot for iOS (animated GIF 005)

Instead, the software passes the link to the iOS media player provided as a card hovering above your timeline. There’s a full screen button that can be tapped to enjoy the animation without any UI distractions. You can also pause the playback and access other standard iOS media player controls as you normally would.

Tweetbot for iOS (animated GIF 006)Tweetbot for iOS (animated GIF 007)

That’s how Tweetbot now handles animated GIFs in both the latest version of iOS 7 and the iOS 8 Beta 4. It’s different to how Tweetbot handles links for regular images or App Store links, both of which render inline.

If I had to take a wild guess here, I’d say Tapbots has decided to use iOS’s built-in media player as a stop-gap solution of sorts as they’re working on implementing animated GIFs inline. Regardless, this is great news because previously, you had to paste a tweet link into your web browser to see the GIF animated inside Twitter’s web app.

For those wondering, Tweetbot for Mac still won’t do animated GIFs, nor would Tweetbot for iPad [$2.99 download].

The only viable explanation must be that Tapbots has either forgotten to mention this feature in its release notes or the company intentionally isn’t making any fuss about it, perhaps to quietly test the feature with its customers.

At any rate, release notes accompanying the download mention three minor improvements : a fix for iOS 8 beta issues, another fix dealing with Flickr image previews and various other bug fixes.

Tweetbot for the iPhone and iPod touch is $4.99 in the App Store.

The native app requires iOS 7.0 or later.

If you want the extend your Tweetbot experience to the Mac, the OS X client will run you $19.99.

  • Héctor Viveros

    I hope tweetbot for iPad gets this future, or just roles out a new paid version.

    • We’ll see support for iOS 7 once iOS 8 comes out and then it will be updated for iOS 8 as soon as iOS 9 launches…

      • Hak

        The only reason Tweetbot for iPad is taking so long to update to iOS 7 is because of the UI update. iOS 8 and 9 will be updated within 1-2 weeks of launch, if not already in their beta builds.

      • Sorry but it doesn’t take the best part of a year to update an app. The only reason it’s taken so long is because it’s either not going to happen (but the developers don’t want to admit this) or they’re simply being incompetent…

      • Hak

        I do agree that it should not take 9 months to make an app. This could be because of Yosemite, iOS 8 (interactive notifications, widgets), or they forgot (highly unlikely). iOS 8 is probably going to be compatible from the start with the iPad version. One can only hope that the next iOS versions will be smaller than 7 for devs.

      • John

        Hak – Disagree here. You release what you have, otherwise people will start to lose faith that you care (and aren’t just after money), I still have Apps that haven’t been resized for the 4″ screen and some that haven’t been updated with iOS 7 look and feel.


      i tried to reach tapbots to get some information about ipad refreshed version for newest ios, or an eta and they didn’t even give me a basic response.

      i feel regret for paid to this app.

  • leart

    Meh, i still prefer tweetbot 2

    • Anthony

      Lol i used both

      • leart

        Probably the 3 version is better but im interface design dependent and for me the aparanence of 2 > 3

      • Kamran Mackey

        Heck no. 3’s user interface is a billion times better.

      • leart

        Yeah is a billion times better but for you. I’m in design business from 16 years now and for my opinion the 3 version design is shit, they tried to match ios 7 aparence an they failed miserably since flat design is not in their style. Of course there are different point of view

  • I prefer Twitterrific. It’s free with a one-time In-App-Purchase to unlock everything. It’s also a universal binary for iPhone, iPod and iPad (and OS X although the OS X version is crummy and needs some love).

  • alfonso hall

    I love tweetbot, But it has one major flaw. When trying to mention someone you follow in a new tweet, you have to almost type in their exact username for them to appear. It also shows people you don’t follow or recognize before the username your trying to mention. Tweetlogix is my next favorite, better than tweetbot as far as features but push notifications suck. Hopefully they fix this in the near future

  • The thing is Twitter “GIFs” are not such, they are videos (look at the URL of any “GIF” on any tweet) so that’s why they are implemented that way in Tweetbot, there might be something they can do about it, but it has nothing to do with handling GIFs.