As a user of Twitter, the ability to check my profile on the move is something that’s essential. The range of Twitter clients out there for the iPad is huge, but the temptation to stick with the official Twitter app is something that many Twitter users may find hard to overcome. In this article, I’ll be looking at a small number of the many Twitter clients out there for the iPad, namely Tweetbot for iPad, Twitterrific and Twitter. Read on to find out how these three apps compare in terms of their user interface and the features they deliver.
The first thing that strikes me when I begin to use any app is most certainly its interface. An app without a smooth and clean design looks messy and complicated and can put me off using it almost immediately. Lucky then that all three of our Twitter clients don’t lack in the interface department. Read on to find out how our three clients compare in terms of interface.
The official Twitter app is definitely clean and simple and for this reason, the official apps interface gets a big thumbs up from me. At the side of your timeline there are four simple buttons, Home, ConnectDiscover and Me, and these allow access to almost everything you could need when using Twitter on a daily basis.
The Timeline view of the official Twitter app.
Some users may not like the fact that to access certain features you need to “tap through” a couple of screens. Direct messages, for example, can only be accessed through the Me button and then tapping into your messages from there. Whilst this may not be a particular problem for the majority of users, some may prefer a more direct approach to accessing features such as that offered in Tweetbot or Twitterrific.
Since Twitter is an official client (and by that I mean it’s owned by Twitter, Inc.) the interface is, as you might expect, much more reminiscent of the Twitter website than any other app out there. This similarity is certainly appealing, especially since when I’m working on my laptop I will often have the Twitter website open rather than the (very simplistic) OS X app in Launchpad. This similarity makes me feel as if I’m using a version of the site optimised for a mobile device rather than a separate client. For me, this is a great plus for the official app and certainly makes up for the lack of direct access to certain features or the slightly limited functionality that Twitter for iPad offers.
Tweetbot for iPad
The interface of Tweetbot is, in a word, fantastic. It offers most of the simplicity of the official Twitter app, while packing in a shed load of additional functionality. For that, Tweetbot must be commended. On opening the app you are presented with your Timeline, yet are given a direct access to a wealth of features at one tap of your iPad (those elusive messages are available with one tap, you may be glad to hear). You also get direct access to your Mentions, Favourites, Lists, Retweets, Profile and a search tool.
The Timeline view in Tweetbot for iPad.
Of course, adding one tap access to all these features does “clutter” up the side bar a little, although the developers Tapbots have still managed to retain a clean looking, simple interface.
Twitterrific for iPad
Twitterrific’s approach to displaying your content is rather different to both Twitter and Tweetbot. Twitterrific really puts your tweets and timeline out there and displays everything in a nice, large format. In comparison, it makes the timelines of both Twitter and Tweetbot look positively small. If large, easy to read and easy to access content is your thing then Twitterrific will be perfect for you.
The Timeline view in Twitteriffic (the Light theme is currently selected).
The choice of either a light or dark theme really alters the interface experience and the ability to have the theme change to dark in the evening is a great little addition (more on features later).
With Twitterrific, you’ve got direct access through a single tap to most of the important and popular features of Twitter. At the top of your Timeline you can access your messages, mentions and favourites in one touch, as well as compose tweets and view your account information. All in all, Twitterrific provides a clean, simple and powerful interface that won’t disappoint, but may take you some time to get used to.
All three Twitter clients come with a great deal of features. The lightest in terms of features is the official app, which gives you the basics that you’ll need as you explore the world of Twitter on your iPad. Despite being lighter, it adds some functionality that the other more feature rich apps don’t, such as the Discover option, which serves up the best new content from Twitter that you may be interested in.
As mentioned above, the official Twitter app is without doubt the lightest of the three in terms of the features it provides. Despite this it still packs a punch in terms of usability and affords the more casual Twitter user all the functions they may need on their Twitter journey. The Home button contains all the tweets and retweets from the people you follow and is pretty much the hub (or home) of your Twitter experience. The Connect button is where you’ll find all your mentions and favourites on Twitter and see the people who’ve started to follow you recently. Depending on the type of Twitter user you are then these two areas of the app will more than likely be the ones you will check the most.
The Connect tab within the official Twitter app.
The Discover button is a great little feature that the other clients featured in this review lack. Discover is where you’ll find all your trending topics as well as some choice tweets from people you may or may not follow. It also suggests people to follow that you may know, which is a great way to find your friends on Twitter.
Composing tweets in Twitter for iPad is simple and functional. Indeed, this is one area where the official app outshines the other third party options. Aside from suggesting people when mentioning in a tweet (as the other clients do), Twitter will also suggest hashtags for you to use. This is a really great feature, although you may not realise how much you use it until you switch to a third party client that doesn’t offer it. I also particularly like the fact that the compose window opens above your Timeline or any other content you were looking at, this gives a sense of reference and also allows you to check tweets before you reply or compose your own tweet.
Tweetbot for iPad
In comparison to the official Twitter client, Tweetbot packs in considerably more features, some of which will be useful to the casual user while others may be more confined to Twitter power users. One of the best features that Tweetbot offers in my opinion is the “streaming” feature — this keeps your Timeline updated in real time — and is a great addition that’s really helpful. The official app is yet to offer this and once you’ve got it you’ll find the constant need to refresh in the official app a serious nuisance.
The syncing of your timeline through Tweet Marker or iCloud across all your devices running Tweetbot is another feature that’s extremely useful. Using Tweetbot on OS X and then going into the iPad app to find my tweets at the same position creates the sense that the iPad app is an extension of my laptop Twitter experience. If you like your content and data synced across your devices then the option to have your tweets synced will be a no brainer for you.
Composing tweets in Tweetbot is an area of the app that I feel could be improved. As with the official app, Tweetbot will suggest people when you mention someone and possible hashtags that you may like to use. However, the compose screen completely removes your timeline from view, this lack of any reference material was something I found disappointing. Of course, some users may not find this to be an issue, but without saving my tweets as a draft or cancelling them completely, the inability to reference my Timeline was frustrating.
Twitterrific sits firmly between the official app and Tweetbot in terms of the number of features it delivers. In my opinion, one of the greatest features that Twitterrific has is the ability to customise the look of your content. Being able to change your font is a great addition that allows you to really make your tweets and content your own (the Calluna font is a personal favourite as it adds a “newspaper-esque” feel to my tweets). You can also change the size of your tweets as well as the spacing in order to fit as much or as little content onto your screen as you’d like.
Composing a tweet within Twitterrific.
Aside from the ability to customise the layout and look of your content, all the usual features that you’ll need as you use Twitter are included. Composing new tweets is simple and the compose window opens nicely on top of your content which gives you the same ability to reference content as the official app does. A nice feature of Twitterrific is the fact that the compose window will save what you’ve already typed regardless of whether you exit the compose window. What you’ve already written will be there waiting for you when you come to open the compose window later. This automatic draft feature saves time and helps create a more fluid experience within the application.
As it sits between the other apps, certain features such as the ability to create lists are not present and while Twitterrific supports the syncing of your Timeline across multiple devices (through Tweet Marker or iCloud), it lacks the streaming feature that is so useful in Tweetbot.
All three clients will allow you to experience the world of Twitter from your iPad. Depending on the type of user you are, you may find the light, clean official app is adequate for your iOS Twitter activity. On the other hand, though, if you’re a heavy user then you may find that you’ll struggle to do without all the features that are present in Tweetbot. If design and customisability is your thing then you may swing toward Twitterrific to take advantage of the radical design that you have more control over.
In these tough economic times, price will most certainly factor into your decision. The official Twitter app is free and when that’s considered it does offer considerable punch for a free app. In addition, being an official app you’ve got the peace of mind that it will always be supported by Twitter, Inc. Tweetbot costs $2.99 from the App Store but for such a feature rich client, thats a small price to pay. It’s worth bearing in mind though that the OS X client is considerably more expensive and if you’re planning on benefitting from syncing your content between your laptop and iPad then the cost of the OS X variant should be factored in.
Twitterrific costs $2.99, which again is a small price for such a great Twitter client. Unfortunately, at present the OS X version of Twitterrific is significantly different from the iOS version and therefore if you’re planning on using one client across all of your devices then you may wish to bear this in mind when deciding on which client to use.
What Twitter client do you use for your iPad? Do you have any alternative suggestions? If so, let us know in the comments section below!
Note: Thanks to James Cull for the screenshots whilst my iPad was out of action!