Tweetie 2 is the first Twitter client I remember really enjoying on iOS. There were others before it, but those mostly served to make Twitter useful to me in any way. I had no desire to use the website. And if that ever becomes the only way to interact with Twitter, I will likely cease to be a user at all (not out of spite, rather from simple neglect).
Then, Loren Brichter went to work for Twitter itself. Tweetie lived on through official channels, but began to degrade. I looked elsewhere for innovative Twitter client design, and found it in Tweetbot. I’ve already sung Tweetbot’s praises, so I won’t do that again here. For quite some time, I’ve been completely satisfied with Tweetbot, but recently I found myself searching for a fresh take on the Twitter experience.
Enter Twitterrific 5. I’ve used Twitterrific in the past, but only briefly. It didn’t feel right when I tried it before, but version 5 changes all that.
It all comes down to two design elements: visual and interaction. Twitterrific has the edge in visual design. Tweetbot is beautiful and clever in the Tapbots “this is a little Twitter robot” way. Twitterrific, on the other hand, looks like your phone has become your Twitter stream. It’s almost like switching to “Twitter mode” rather than launching an app that works as a control interface for the service.
In reference to the one home button design, Steve Jobs described the whole iPhone experience in this way. The phone becomes the app. Twitterrific succeeds here in every way. Reading is easier, colors are effectivley used, settings and customizations are few (but seem to have just the ones you need without being too fiddly).
In the second element—interaction—Twitterific gets it right again. There are gestures for navigating tweets fluidly and intuitively once you know to start swiping. There is no need to instruct each individual gesture, just that gestures are important to the app. Once you know that, everything just seems to move. The model is simple in that tapping around will bring up actions for tweets, but gestures are there as a bonus for those who would use them. I did notice that gestures felt more discoverable in Tweetbot, perhaps due to the sliding-robot-parts effect in the Tapbots design.
For now, Twitterrific’s modern visual design wins out for the spot on my home screen.