The latest version of Twitterrific, released today on the App Store, brings a number of nice improvements such as hashtag autocompletion, better support for Handoff, and some welcome fixes for quoted tweets and the media viewer. What's even nicer is that, if you're running the iOS 9 beta, Twitterrific for iOS 8 already supports Safari View Controller and the San Francisco font thanks to some clever coding by The Iconfactory.
Posts tagged with "twitterrific"
By far the coolest of these improvements is the use of Apple’s facial recognition APIs to improve image previews. What does that mean exactly? It means that as Twitterrific displays media thumbnails in the timeline (pictures, videos, etc), the app tries to detect faces and frame the thumbnail so faces are always showing. In short, if Twitterrific sees a face in a tweet, it tries to make sure you see it too!
The effect when scanning through your list of tweets in the timeline can be dramatic. Previously Twitterrific always framed thumbnails on the center of images, but many times people’s faces aren’t in the middle, especially on portrait shots. Check out these before and after comparison screen shots to see the difference facial framing makes in the timeline.
This is a great example of how an iOS API seemingly unrelated to Twitter clients can dramatically improve the experience of an app. Very clever.
I've talked about The Iconfactory's commitment to Twitterrific before, as I think they're showing how a third-party Twitter client can keep up with new features while still adding its own flair and powerful features. Today, The Iconfactory has released version 5.12 of Twitterrific for iOS, and I'm a fan of the changes.
I'm a big fan of The Iconfactory's continued development of Twitterrific in spite of the restrictions on third-party clients imposed by Twitter. I'm happy to see that Twitterrific is already available on Apple Watch with version 5.11 (released last night), which uses notifications and Glances to offer an overview of recent Twitter changes in your account.
Twitterrific’s glance gives you a fun, visual digest of the total number of favorites, retweets and new followers you’ve received over the past 24 hours. Think of it as a lightweight version of the Today View from the iOS app. It also displays the number of unread tweets currently waiting for you the next time you launch the iOS app. Note that Twitterrific’s push notifications (available as a one-time in-app purchase) are needed to take full advantage of the app’s features on Apple Watch.
The Twitterrific watch app displays a list of your most recent 25 replies, mentions, direct messages, favs, RT’s and new followers right on your wrist. This helps you focus on the part of Twitter that’s most important to you and frees you from information overload common when viewing your entire timeline. Simply tap any item in the list to view its details and respond in a number of ways. Favorite a reply or mention, give a new friend a follow back and even reply to mentions and direct messages using Apple Watch’s dictation feature. It’s just that simple.
I look forward to trying Twitterrific once I get my Watch. Also in this update, you can now see fave and RT counts for selected tweets. These counts are one of my favorite features in Twitter for iOS, and while Twitterrific can't fetch them for all tweets and update them in real time (due to API restrictions), they managed to find a good compromise that helps add context to tweets. Well done.
In my in-depth look at Twitter clients for iOS from December 2014, I noted Twitterrific’s fantastic support for iOS 8 extensions and thoughtful design touches, but lamented the app’s lack of integration with modern Twitter media features. In particular, Twitterrific didn’t support multiple images in tweets and animated GIFs; compared to Tweetbot, Twitterrific didn’t have inline playback for popular third-party sharing services such as Vine and Instagram either.
With today’s 5.9 update, The Iconfactory has considerably improved their client’s media preview capabilities by bringing native integration with the aforementioned services and support for Twitter’s GIFs and multiple images. Furthermore, Twitterrific has gained minor but welcome changes such as the ability to save source tweets to Pocket and show a user’s mentions by long-tapping a profile picture.
Twitter clients used to be a UI design playground. The growing popularity of Twitter, an open API, and the rapid takeoff of the App Store contributed to the creation of a defining genre of mobile software in 2009 and 2010: the Twitter client for iPhone. In the golden days of third-party Twitter apps, a good new client would come out at least every month, with several developers pitching their own ideas for what was meant to be a mobile-first communication network.
iPhone apps and the Twitter API were a perfect match five years ago. Twitter made sense as a social network in your pocket; Apple’s iPhone OS and newly launched App Store made that a reality. As a user, there was little friction in trying multiple Twitter clients: because Twitter data was always “in the cloud”, changing clients was like choosing a different outfit each day. The core Twitter experience would always be the same; the design and preferences around it would differ from client to client.
That was a time of astonishing innovation in mobile app design. Twitterrific, the first native Twitter client for iPhone, effectively invented key aspects of modern Twitter interaction and terminology; Tweetie, perhaps the most popular Twitter client of its time, pioneered touch interaction paradigms such as pull to refresh. And then there were Weet, Osfoora, Birdfeed, Twittelator, Echofon, Tweetings, TweetList, and dozens of other apps that helped refine and redefine the idea of what Twitter on an iPhone could be.
Good Twitter clients weren’t easy to create, but the challenge they packed was intriguing and flexible. As a Twitter developer, you needed to design an app that would primarily display textual information (this was before Twitter photos), handle hyperlinks, manage interactions between users, account for different network conditions, possibly integrate with third-party sharing services years before iOS 8, and, most of all, be fast, responsive, and easy to use. The constraints of Twitter clients in 2009/2010 freed many from the struggle of coming up with an original app idea.
If you’re using an iOS app today, there’s a good chance some of its features or design ideas first appeared in a Twitter client five years ago.
We know how the story moved forward. In April 2010, Twitter realized that they needed an official iOS presence on the App Store, so they bought Loren Brichter’s Tweetie, relaunched it as Twitter for iPhone, and Brichter released the (unsurprisingly genius) Twitter for iPad. For a while, it looked like Tweetie would live on, but then Twitter started adding questionable features to it, and it became clear that the third-party Twitter client would be persona non grata on the App Store.
Over the years, there have been countless examples of Twitter prioritizing their own app and a closed ecosystem approach over third-party developers and improvements to the API. From the infamous quadrant and token limits to the display guidelines and constant reticence about bringing new features to the API, Twitter has been nebulous in providing an official stance on third-party clients after the Tweetie acquisition, but the subtext of their announcements has always been fairly clear to everyone in the third-party scene. Twitter wanted people to use their official app, not a third-party client.
Before the Twitter acquisition in 2010, I was using a bunch of third-party clients but I had eventually elected Tweetie as my preferred one. After Brichter’s app turned into Twitter for iPhone, I stuck to it for a while, but then I was allured by Tapbots’ promise of a Twitter client for power users. As I wrote in my original review, Tweetbot had everything I was looking for, and that was before Tapbots would bring fantastic new features that made it even more versatile.
I loved Tweetbot in a way that I didn’t love any other app for iOS. I have extremely vivid and personal memories of getting the first beta builds of Tweetbot for iPhone and iPad, and, until Editorial came around, Tweetbot was the app I spent most of my days in. From 2011 until earlier this year, I used Tweetbot every working hour of every day. Tweetbot was Twitter for me.
That’s not to say that I stopped checking in on the state of other Twitter clients for iOS, but I certainly became less curious because I had found the one. I’ve primarily continued to keep an eye on Twitterrific, but I largely ignored the third-party space for two years. Last year, the launch of iOS 7 motivated me to look for new Twitter clients again and I stumbled across new versions of TweetLogix, Echofon, and Tweet7, but my affection for Tweetbot and the fact that the majority of my Internet friends were using Tapbots’ app convinced me that I didn’t have to look for anything else.
I like to think that I’m naturally curious, but, for my Twitter client of choice, I had become complacent and fixated on the belief that the official Twitter app could never offer anything valuable again. Earlier this year, an idea started poking me in the back of my mind: if the rest of the world is using the Twitter app for iOS, shouldn’t I give it another chance?
This realization came from a simple occasion: I was having dinner out with some friends, and I noticed that they were using the Twitter app for iPhone to read news and follow their favorite celebrities. Tweetbot was Twitter for me and I was certain that I could never switch to another app, but they seemed to be just fine with the official app and its lack of streaming, mute filters, quick actions, and all those other great details Tweetbot had. “They’re not power users”, I thought, and that settled it.
Still. For someone who likes to think he’s curious and writes about apps for a living, my unwillingness to at least try the app from the service I use every day was remarkable in its shortsightedness. Twitter had changed since 2011, and it wasn’t meant for power users. The rest of the world was using Twitter through the official apps and I thought that I knew better than anyone else. So, a fun experiment began:
I started using the official Twitter client as my main Twitter app on my iPhone and iPad.
For the past six months, I’ve been reevaluating my entire Twitter experience based on the apps I use to read tweets and interact with people. The idea made a lot more sense once I stepped out of my preconceptions: I wanted to understand what 2014 Twitter was like and if that meant sacrificing my nerd cred and use a Muggle’s Twitter app, so be it. But at the same time, I’ve gone back and forth between Twitter and third-party clients, primarily out of habit, but also because they still offer powerful features and design details that I appreciate.
I didn’t want to focus on the history of Twitter clients, my thoughts on Twitter’s policies, or every single Twitter app currently available for iOS 8. I also couldn’t compare every single feature or design decision for every possible scenario a Twitter client could be used in.
Instead, I attempted to address my curiosity from a utilitarian standpoint. Given the three most popular Twitter apps for iOS (Twitter, Tweetbot, and Twitterrific), I wanted to slowly evaluate their features for my use case. To do this, I assembled a list of features I need a Twitter client to be capable of handling and I started taking notes every time I switched between clients. I’ve been doing this since early June.
I’ve spent weeks comparing features and changing apps to understand the kind of experience they want to promote. But implementation details and design differences aside, I also kept wondering the same question: was the real Twitter different from the third-party clients I used for three years?
What’s 2014 Twitter like on iOS?
Twitterrific, the popular Twitter client by The Iconfactory, was updated this week with support for native iOS 8 share sheets, a new way to search for users when composing a tweet, and other improvements. I've always been impressed by The Iconfactory's commitment to Twitterrific, so this week I took version 5.8 for a spin.
I like how share sheets have been implemented in the app. Like Tweetbot, you can tap & hold on links in the timeline and you'll get action and share extensions in exchange for the ability to preview the full URL; you can also share directly from web views. What I like, however, is that you can tap & hold any tweet to instantly show the share sheet and pass its URL to extensions. I often use tweets as todos, and being able to save links to tweets with extensions in Twitterrific is fast, easy, and, overall, nice. Especially on the iPad – where Tweetbot hasn't been updated and the Twitter app doesn't support native share sheets – this aspect of Twitterrific is extremely welcome.
Twitterrific 5.8 is available on the App Store.
With a relatively minor 5.7.2 update released last night, The Iconfactory added an ingenious Edit Tweet button in Twitterrific for iOS, cleverly sidestepping Twitter’s lack of official support for such functionality with a native integration.
With the latest 5.7 update released today, Twitterrific for iOS, The Iconfactory's popular Twitter client, has gone freemium: the app is now free to download with In-App Purchases to unlock more features and remove ads from the app. For those who have been around to witness Twitterrific's evolution through the years, this move actually marks the return of The Iconfactory's client to a freemium business model with ads.
From the company's official blog post:
Twitterrific has been available in the App Store since day one and we’ve experimented with different revenue models in the past, including the one we’re returning to today. Our hope is that this helps get Twitterrific into more people’s hands than ever before so they can enjoy the simple beauty of reading and posting tweets once again. The update also includes some improvements including upping the number of tweets the timeline can hold to 500, something users have been requesting more and more.
The Iconfactory's Gedeon Maheux published his thoughts on the new strategy in a separate blog post:
There are lots of risks with moving to this type of revenue model, but version 4 of Twitterrific was by far our most successful and that version was supported by ad revenue from The Deck. No doubt levels of support will increase dramatically for us but that’s part of the trade-off of having successful, thriving software. I’m also personally curious to see if moving to the free model and increasing the app’s downloads by at least 1 or 2 orders of magnitude will improve Twitterrific’s search results in the App Store.
For existing customers who bought Twitterrific 5.0 when it launched in December 2012, all features will be automatically unlocked by default. Twitterrific's renewed freemium approach comes at an interesting time: Apple is testing a feature to enable customers to find more specific, relevant apps in search results (whose ranking is affected by the number of downloads, which a freemium strategy can facilitate), and Twitter is still enforcing a token limit on third-party clients. While news of third-party Twitter apps exceeding their token limits aren't new on other platforms, popular clients for iOS such as Tweetbot and Twitterrific have so far managed to always accommodate new users without issues.
It'll be interesting to see how going freemium will affect Twitterrific's popularity and relevance in search results; in the past months, the app received several enhancements such as live streaming and background refresh. Features that are now part of the In-App Purchase include tweet translation, Today view, and push notifications, which are automatically unlocked using iOS 7's receipt validation for existing customers.
Twitterrific 5.7 is available on the App Store.