Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

App of the Week: Tweetbot

Back in July, I reviewed TweetDeck, which at the time I felt was the best combined Twitter and Facebook client for iOS. But recently a degree of bitrot has infiltrated TweetDeck such that it now crashes regularly on devices running iOS 5, and so I’ve been on the look out for a replacement. Whilst Seesmic offers one client which supports both Twitter and Facebook (along with ping.fm), it doesn’t integrate them as well as TweetDeck did – the timelines are separate.

Since I have the official Facebook app on my iPhone anyway, I decided to try alternatives, and Tweetbot by Tapbots had been recommended. Unlike other Twitter apps it isn’t free – it costs £1.99 on the UK App Store, and there’s no trial version with adverts. But, having used it for a couple of days, it is worth the investment.

The interface is a little different to other apps, as it uses its own interface widgets, rather than following the same design principles as standard iOS apps. But, it is arranged in a logical way, and it shouldn’t take long to get used to. The main tabs – your timeline, mentions and direct messages – are where you’d expect, and there’s easy access to your favourite tweets, retweets and your profile. It also has very good support for Twitter’s lists feature which other clients tend to skip.

A single tap on a tweet produces a menu below which allows you to reply, retweet or favourite it, or open a further menu to quote, copy, email or translate it. It will also activate any links or @mentions. You can also click the ‘view detail’ button which lets you view the tweet full-screen, and click to see who has replied to, retweeted or favourited the tweet. If a link in a tweet is an image, such as on TwitPic or yFrog, TweetBot will show it full screen, and it supports a large number of services for this.

When composing tweets, you can use either Twitter’s built-in link shortener (t.co) and its own image hosting service (pic.twitter.com), or you can use one of several third-party services. Tweets can be saved as drafts and you can add a location; auto-completion of hashtags and @usernames is also supported.

What makes Tweetbot stand out is its ‘mute’ feature. You can mute users, hashtags or particular clients either indefinitely or for a short period of time. So if you don’t want to see tweets from paper.li, you can mute it across all of the people you follow, but still be able to read their other tweets. Similarly if someone is tweeting more than usual and you’re not interested, you can mute them for a few hours without unfollowing them. And you can also mute hashtags – so if you don’t care about The X-Factor you can restrict the tide of tweets from the people you follow by muting the #xfactor hashtag.

Finally, unlike some other third-party Twitter clients, it supports push notifications, so that your device will alert you to any new mentions or direct messages. You can also limit push notifications of mentions to people you follow, to reduce spam.

The only real downside is that it only supports Twitter – there’s no integration of other sites like Google+ or Facebook, which is a bit of a shame. However, it does support Twitter very, very well.

I’ve been really impressed by Tweetbot. It’s quite a new client – version 1.0 was only released in April of this year – but it’s being actively improved and enhanced and deserves more attention than it gets. The price tag will put people off, but if you don’t mind spending less than £2 then you won’t be disappointed.

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