Twitter has recently announced the social network now has more than 200 million active monthly users, calling them, “the pulse of the planet.” Although there are no firm figures, a high percentage of those users must tweet or browse their feeds using a mobile application, of which Twitter provides its own for most major platforms. The trouble is, it’s not very good, but thankfully there are several third-party options that are much better.
For some time my go-to Twitter app has been TweetBot, a feature-rich, super-smooth, lightning fast application which is a pleasure to use. It’s not just on the iPhone either, as the experience on the iPad is equally brilliant. Because of Twitter’s free app, some may baulk at the idea of paying for a client, however once you’ve given it a try you’ll realise what you’ve been missing.
While there are other options out there, because TweetBot was so good, the urge to try out one of its competitors was never there. Until, that is, Twitteriffic was updated to version 5 in mid-December. Twitteriffic was once like TweetBot and the choice of the connoisseur, but through no real fault of its own it had fallen out of favour, and had become just another client to try out before deciding to stick with TweetBot.
Its list of new features and improvements was too great to pass up, plus it’s universal for the iPhone and iPad, so there’s a small financial saving over Tweetbot, as it publishes two separate versions. Open the app and you’re instantly struck by how brilliant it all looks, the design is really fantastic and a considerable improvement over TweetBot’s effective but slightly ordinary style.
The background is solid black, with each tweet a subtle grey. The time stamp is bright purple, plus links and hashtags a contrasting blue colour. The iPhone 5’s excellent display makes it all look great too, with each person’s avatar really standing out against the dark back drop. Dig into Twitteriffic’s menu system and you find a very handy panel which lets you customise the way the app looks. The dark background can be swapped for a bright white page, the font and its size can be changed, the spacing between lines can be increased or decreased, and even the size of each avatar image can be altered.
At the top of the screen there are three buttons providing instant access to your @ replies and direct messages – be warned, your replies have a shockingly bright yellow and orange colour combination, which looks far better than it really should. If you prefer, there’s the option to use a unified feed, where DMs and replies show up in different colours in amongst your regular stream.
The swipe gestures work well, with a quick flick to the right to instantly reply, or a left swipe to view the conversation. Swipe with two-fingers across the screen and it changes between the light and dark themes, which is handy depending on the ambient light. Best of all is the refresh animation, as when you pull down on the screen a tiny egg appears at the top of the screen, which hatches a little flappy Twitter bird as the app loads new tweets. I’ve never refreshed Twitter so much in my life.
It’s not all good news though, as there are a few missing features and a few restrictions which see Twitteriffic lose some points. The first, and perhaps most important omission is push notifications. That’s right, a feature considered standard on almost all other connected applications is absent here, where you arguably need it most. This is the biggest downside of Twitteriffic, although it only displaying 50 tweets instead of 200 when it starts up is frustrating too.
So is it better than TweetBot? All the time it doesn’t have push notifications, no, but when and if this feature is enabled, it will be on a par with TapBots’ excellent app. It is far better than Twitter’s own client though, and its inventive visual style is reason enough to to give it a try, although the £1.99 price tag is still sure to put people off. Beware though, unless you want to pay £3.99, you better get it quickly as its current price is a 50% off launch special. And good though it is, if you’re willing to spend that money on a Twitter app, have a good look at the two TweetBot apps first.