Tweetbot vs. Twitterrific

Yesterday may forever be known as the Day of Tweetbot.

Not only did Tapbots release version 2.0 of Tweetbot for iPhone, they also unleashed Tweetbot for iPad, both of which were met with much fanfare on the interwebs.

Lots has already been written about Tweetbot (see Federico Viticci’s reviews of Tweetbot 2.0 and Tweetbot for iPad, in particular), and the majority of reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Personally, I’ve always been a diehard Twitterrific fan across all of my devices. However, Tweetbot has recently managed to supplant Twitterrific’s position on my home screen. Here’s why.

A Few Words About Twitterrific

First of all, I love Twitterrific. Anybody would do well to use it as their main Twitter client, but there are two features that I would use to determine whether Twitterrific is right for someone. The first is simplicity. If you enjoy a minimalist, yet capable, design, you’ll probably find Twitterrific to be a wonderful experience.

The second feature is less an issue of aesthetics and more an issue of function, and that’s the unified timeline. All tweets, mentions, and direct messages show up in Twitterrific’s main timeline. This is great if you: A) read every tweet, or B) don’t follow many people.

One usually informs the other. If you follow hundreds of people, you probably don’t read every tweet and are content to just jump in and read whatever’s going on in your timeline at the moment. If you follow a smaller number of people, you might like to read all of the tweets since the last time you checked Twitter.

Users in the former category will probably dislike Twitterrific’s unified timeline because the lack of a dedicated Mentions tab makes it easier for them to miss replies and mentions. On the other hand, if you read every tweet anyway, you’ll see your mentions as you scroll through your timeline, and you probably won’t miss having a separate Mentions tab.

I’m obligated here to mention something about gap handling. Gaps are what happens when you don’t check Twitter for several hours, and you missed more tweets than your client is capable of loading at one time. Most apps offer some sort of “Load More” option when this happens, at which point you have two options: skip the old, unloaded tweets, or tap to load them manually.

I don’t know the specific technical requirements that go into making an efficient “Load More Tweets” mechanism, but I will say that Tweetbot handles gaps consistently better than Twitterrific. Again, how many people you follow and how you read Twitter will determine whether this is a selling point for you.

In any case, do note that Twitterrific does have a Mentions-only view, it’s just two taps away. From your main timeline, you need to tap your username in the upper left-hand corner to get to your account screen. From here, you can choose to view All Tweets, Mentions, Messages, Favorites, Lists, or search Twitter. So it is there, but it’s out of the way due to the minimalist, clutter-free design.

Behold the Power of Tweetbot

One phrase that’s often heard in association with Tweetbot is “Power User”, and I will agree that those are the people who are going to prefer Tweetbot the most. That’s not to say casual users won’t like it, but Tweetbot’s abundant features will speak to those who use Twitter as a tool, rather than as a diversion.

The most prominent feature of Tweetbot is the unmistakable Tapbots style. Tapbots’ apps have a particular look to them, and if that look doesn’t agree with you, you might as well stop reading now. The interface doesn’t quite match Twitterrific in simplicity, but it’s just as clean and pretty to look at. The bottom toolbar has tabs for Tweets, Mentions, and Direct Messages, and you can customize the last two tabs by assigning things like Profile, Favorites, or Retweets, depending on which features you use most. The app scrolls very smoothly in a way that’s hard to describe. Tapping a tweet reveals the tweet drawer, which contains Reply, Retweet, Favorite, Options, and Detailed View buttons. Tapping and holding on avatars and links brings up a variety of options, like muting or sending to Instapaper.

New to Tweetbot are inline photos, which show you a thumbnail view within the tweet itself, and a New Tweets bar that shows you how many tweets you have left to read. Other new features and tweaks are too numerous to mention, but all are for the better. Despite being a day old, the iPad version is just as functional, and of course you can sync timeline position with the iPhone version via Tweet Marker. Tweetbot is one app where exploring the Settings menu is an absolute must, as there are many customizable options to be found.

Why I Switched from Twitterrific to Tweetbot

Again, Twitterrific is great, and for most users it should be a lovely fit. But, Tweetbot contains features that I — as a guy who writes a thousand words about Twitter apps — need and want.

The first is List Management. Tweetbot allows you to create and edit lists, while Twitterrific only lets you view them. If you don’t use lists, it’s not a problem, but I keep lists for apps, services, and people I don’t need on my main timeline, but still like to check in with once in a while, like bands or tech writers.

Second is the ability to mute people for specific periods of time. I was getting ready to go see one of my favorite bands in New York City a few weeks ago, and I didn’t want to see the previous night’s setlist, which the band tweets during each show. I could have unfollowed the band for a day and then refollowed them, but that would have been a pain. Instead, Tweetbot allowed me mute their account for twenty-four hours, so I never saw the setlist. After, their tweets reappeared in my timeline. No need to remember to follow them again. You can mute someone for a day, a week, a month, or forever. Handier than you might think.

Then there are other features like Favstar integration, Retweet views, and a Mobilizer switch for the in-app browser. You can tell Tweetbot to “sleep” and not bother you during certain hours of the day. I can’t possibly go into every little feature, so suffice it to say I’ve yet to find a need Tweetbot cannot fulfill for me. This is an app that was lovingly crafted by a company with an astounding attention to detail.

The choice between these two apps comes down to simplicity versus power. Both are beautiful, well-designed apps, so ask yourself if you need Twitter to have less or more features. While I love Twitterrific and will continue to keep an eye on its future updates, as well as recommend it to others, Tweetbot is now my default Twitter client for iPhone and iPad. Its beautiful design and rich features make it fun to use and a powerful asset on my home screen.

You can buy Twitterrific, Tweetbot 2.0 for iPhone and Tweetbot for iPad on the App Store.

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