There was a time when Twitter was a breeding ground for gorgeous user interfaces and great developers. Since Twitter introduced its new API last year, this has changed. A lot of developers are moving. That being said, some developers continue to embrace and improve the platform. The Iconfactory is one of those developers that, despite Twitter’s apocalyptic approach with token limits, continues to update their app and improve it.
With Twitterrific, the entire app gets a whole new (and vastly improved) look. It’s a Twitter app that’s better than the standard Twitter app by leaps and bounds, but also completely different from the rest of the competition. Less mechanical than Tweetbot and more fun than any of the others, Twitterrific is its own beast and well worth exploring.
The big news with Twitterrific is that it simply looks stunning. It looks similar to a Windows Phone app without missing any of the obsessive details that iOS is traditionally known for. In the grand scheme of things, Twitterrific 5 is representative of a “flat” design trend going on with app development right now. The easiest way to explain the flat design trend is to describe it as an exercise in minimalism, which fascinates me. What happens when you strip an app down to its essentials?
Well, in the case of Twitterrific, it means that buttons appear at the top instead of the bottom of the app. It means that the dark theme is always easy on the eyes with mid-level contrast, which creates a leisurely reading experience (there is a light theme as well, which I preferred for outdoor use). It means that there is a focus on gestures, which are explained in the Help section of the app. And there’s a lot of gestures.
Similarly to Tweetbot, swiping left or right on a tweet allows you to view a conversation thread or simply reply. Tapping your avatar on the top left gets you to the Settings menu, which is surprisingly deep. The ability to change the font is great (I like Promixa Nova), and even nicer is the ease with which you can change each tweet’s margins. The app looks great in landscape or portrait mode on both iPhone and iPads, and all of the fonts render well even on the low-resolution iPad mini.
By the time you’re done customizing the app, you’re likely to end up with a Metro-style (Windows-like) interface that you’re probably going to enjoy. It does feel very unique to the user, unlike most of its competitors, and that’s something that I really value. That’s how Twitter was always supposed to feel from the get-go, and the best praise I can give Twitterrific is that they’ve really nailed the Twitter atmosphere like no other developer.
There’s something extremely friendly about Twitterrific‘s walls that I felt very comfortable in right away. I was happy to see some of my favourite features of Tweetbot were included: the aforementioned swipe gestures notwithstanding, I was especially glad to see support for my favourite sharing services and even iCloud sync for your Timeline (Tweet Marker is also available, but I trust that service even less than iCloud).
The app uses an interesting inline structure to view your mentions and tweets, but also throws direct messages directly into the Newsfeed. Everything is colour-coded. For example, the text in a @ mention is always orange. It’s never explained, but it quickly becomes obvious and it’s a smart way to handle Twitter’s newest API changes that dictate avatars always be on the left-hand side of a tweet. And I’d be remiss if I forgot the lovely contextual sounds that the app makes — you’ll have to hear them for yourself to appreciate them, but to put it simply, they’re clever and they’re fantastic.
At the time of writing, Twitterrific is missing a couple of things. The first is notification support, which is reportedly coming. According to the Iconfactory’s website, it’s in the early stages, but they look forward to bringing it to the app and they’re working with Twitter to make it happen. Also of note is that there is currently no iCloud sync with the OS X Twitterrific client, which means that Tweet Marker could be necessary if you plan on tweeting from your desktop.
I know that Timeline sync is of a great concern to a lot of people, so it’s worth going into a little bit more detail about the difference between iCloud and Tweet Marker. People familiar with Tweetbot will know that iCloud syncs all of your directed mentions and messages as well as your position in your Timeline, while Tweet Marker only syncs your Timeline position. In the case of Twitterrific, iCloud is only currently syncing my Timeline, which means that (apart from stability), there are no serious ramifications to using Tweet Marker instead of iCloud. In that case, using the desktop app with Tweet Marker enabled is as good a way to go as any.
In a perfect world, everything would work together seamlessly. I think that Tweetbot is a better experience on the iPad, but that Twitterrific has it a little beat on the iPhone. The best bet is probably to use Twitterrific on iPhone and Tweetbot on iPad, enabling Tweet Marker to keep the two in relative sync. That being said, if you’re anything like me, you like your solutions to be as holistic as possible and you’d rather use the same Twitter client across every platform (to which I say, “good luck”). In that case, it’s honestly a toss-up.
And that’s the nicest thing I could possibly say about Twitterrific: After my review period, I’m considering leaving Tweetbot for it. It’s not that Tweetbot is bad, it’s that Twitterrific could be the better alternative. I’m actually at an impasse between the two, but I’d be willing to bet that Iconfactory’s latest could surpass Tweetbot with another couple months of refinement. All it really needs is notification support and more advanced iCloud sync. That being said, choosing between the best Twitter clients isn’t like choosing between iOS and Android for many of us: For many of us, these clients are equally good and equally easy-to-use. Twitterrific is beautiful, elegant, and simply a joy to use throughout the day. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Twitterrific is beautiful, elegant and a joy to use. The only serious thing it's missing is notification support.9
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