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Posts tagged with "tweetbot"

A Final Update to Tweetbot and Twitterrific That Allows Users to Support Tapbots and The Iconfactory

Usually, when a big company shuts down an API, they give customers time to prepare. It’s the right thing to do regardless of what any terms of service say. That’s not how things went down with Twitter. Instead, as I wrote in January, Twitter eliminated access to its API for many third-party apps, including Tweetbot by Tapbots and Twitterrific by The Iconfactory, with no notice at all and then made up an excuse for why they did so after the fact. One moment the apps worked; the next, they didn’t.

The ramifications of Twitter’s actions are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before on the App Store. Tweetbot and Twitterrific were both subscription-based apps. Because they had no notice, neither company had a chance to suspend new subscriptions or take other actions to deal with a change that, under the best of circumstances, would pose massive challenges to their development teams. As a result, both Tapbots and The Iconfactory are faced with refunding the 70-85% of subscription revenues that they received on a pro-rated basis. That’s how the App Store works, and it’s potentially devastating to both companies given how events played out.

To try to mitigate the damage, both Tweetbot and Twitterrific were updated this week with new interfaces. Now, both apps give subscribers the option to indicate that they don’t want a refund. Tweetbot also offers to transfer a user’s Tweetbot subscription to Tapbots’ new Mastodon app, Ivory, which Federico recently reviewed and is excellent. If users do nothing, they’ll receive a refund that will be credited to their App Store account automatically by Apple.


Tapbots and The Iconfactory have played an important part in the Apple developer community for a very long time, and their Twitter clients were two of the best ever created. It’s been hard for us at MacStories to watch as the makers of two of our favorite apps have been treated with such callous disregard by Twitter, which owes no small portion of its past success to both apps.

If you were a subscriber to either or both apps, you’re absolutely entitled to a refund, but we’d ask that you open the app you use and tap the button to decline a refund as a final act of support for their developers instead.

The App Store’s success is built on many things, but its cornerstone is the developers who care enough to make apps like Tweetbot and Twitterrific. Many of us have moved on from Twitter, but let’s not leave behind the developers who made it a place where we once enjoyed hanging out.

If you’ve already deleted either app from your devices, both Tweetbot and Twitterrific can still be downloaded from the App Store.


Twitter Intentionally Ends Third-Party App Developer Access to Its APIs

Late yesterday, The Information reported that it had seen internal Twitter Slack communications confirming that the company had intentionally cut off third-party Twitter app access to its APIs. The shut-down, which happened Thursday night US time, hasn’t affected all apps and services that use the API but instead appears targeted at the most popular third-party Twitter clients, including Tweetbot by Tapbots and Twitterrific by The Iconfactory. More than two days later, there’s still no official explanation from Twitter about why it chose to cut off access to its APIs with no warning whatsoever.

To say that Twitter’s actions are disgraceful is an understatement. Whether or not they comply with Twitter’s API terms of service, the lack of any advanced notice or explanation to developers is unprofessional and an unrecoverable breach of trust between it and its developers and users.

Twitter’s actions also show a total lack of respect for the role that third-party apps have played in the development and success of the service from its earliest days. Twitter was founded in 2006, but it wasn’t until the iPhone launched about a year later that it really took off, thanks to the developers who built the first mobile apps for the service.

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Tweetbot 7.1 Adds Background Notifications for Follows, Quotes, and User Tweets

A tweet notification from Tweetbot. This one took about four minutes to arrive – not too bad considering they're not based on push notifications.

A tweet notification from Tweetbot. This one took about four minutes to arrive – not too bad considering they’re not based on push notifications.

We’ve been keeping an eye on Tapbots’ rapid development pace for Tweetbot on iPhone and iPad over the past few months (we gave Tweetbot 6 a MacStories Selects award in December), and I continue to be impressed by how Tweetbot is growing and adding new features thanks to its new business model and Twitter’s new API.

In today’s 7.1 update, Tweetbot has gained support for background notifications. These notifications, unlike push notifications, are managed by iOS/iPadOS’ background app refresh system, which comes with some benefits and limitations that Tapbots has outlined here. In terms of why this matters for users, background notifications alllow Tweetbot to support notifications for more types of activities: you can now enable notifications for new followers, people who quote one of your tweets, and – my favorite – new tweets from a specific user. The latter can be enabled on a user’s profile page (pictured below) or by long-pressing someone’s profile picture in the timeline.

Enabling notifications for specific users.

Enabling notifications for specific users.

Being notified when a specific user tweets was one of the features I was missing from the official Twitter app, so I’m glad Tapbots figured out a way to add it to Tweetbot. Since Tapbots’ system is based on Apple’s background app refresh technology and they can’t control the timing of notifications, Tweetbot’s version of these alerts won’t likely be as immediate as the Twitter app, but that’s fine as long as I get a list of new tweets from specific users.

I look forward to testing these notifications over the next few days. Tweetbot 7.1 is available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad; hopefully, we won’t have to wait much longer for Tweetbot 7 to arrive on macOS too.

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Tweetbot 7 Adds Back the App’s Stats View and Includes New Themes

Over three years ago, Tweetbot removed the app’s stats view as a result of Twitter API changes. Today, that view is back in Tweetbot 7 for the iPhone and iPad, thanks to the social media company’s increased willingness to open its platform to third-party developers like Tapbots.

The view includes a graph at the top, followed by statistics detailing your timeline activity for the last week, including Likes, Replies, Tweets, Retweets, Quotes, and Follows. You can swipe across the graph to see each category by day or tap the categories under the graph to jump straight to that view.

Tweetbot 7 also includes new dark themes called hej and bumblebee. Hej features a slate blue background with yellow highlights, while bumblebee has a near-black background with brighter yellow accents.

The pace of Tweetbot updates has picked up significantly in recent months, which is fantastic. I missed the app’s stats view, so it’s nice to see its return. However, with each new feature and refinement to Tweetbot’s iOS and iPadOS apps, the Mac app looks more and more dated. The two versions are badly out of sync in terms of features too. As someone who spends a lot of time on the Mac, that’s disappointing and something that I hope will change soon.

Tweetbot 7 is available as a free update on the App Store for the iPhone and iPad. However, some of the app’s features require a subscription.


Tweetbot 6.6 Gets Support for Creating Polls, Limiting Who Can Reply to Tweets

Tweetbot 6.6 supports creating polls and limiting replies to your tweets.

Tweetbot 6.6 supports creating polls and limiting replies to your tweets.

For the past two months, I’ve been using Tweetbot as my primary Twitter client again. This started off as an experiment to see whether switching to a third-party client with timeline sync would improve my daily use of Twitter, allowing me to miss fewer tweets and catch up on my timeline (I’ve always been a completionist) at my own pace. The experiment has been successful, but, curiously enough, it also made me appreciate the design and power-user features of Tweetbot all over again.

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Tweetbot 6 Moves to Subscription Pricing

Tapbots, the maker of Tweetbot, has released version 6 of the app, introducing a new subscription pricing model along with a handful of timeline and design updates.

The subscription costs $0.99 per month or $5.99 annually. Many of the features previously available as part of the paid app, including multiple account support, advanced filtering, and push notifications, are now subscription-only features. Tapbots says that subscribers will also benefit from future updates as Twitter expands its third-party APIs and ensure Tweetbot’s continued development. You can still download the app to view your timeline if you’re not willing to subscribe, but the free version is read-only, so it isn’t possible to tweet from it.

Tweetbot 6 includes new icons, themes, and other Settings updates.

Tweetbot 6 includes new icons, themes, and other Settings updates.

Aside from the new pricing model, Tweetbot 6 has only implemented a handful of new features, including a few changes to the timeline view and some design changes. In the main timeline, you’ll notice more image thumbnails than before. Polls and cards are also visible thanks to the implementation of Twitter’s latest third-party APIs, and there are new dedicated ‘@’ and ‘#’ buttons in the app’s tweet composition sheet.

Tweetbot 6 has implemented changes to the app’s settings too:

  • There are three new alternative app icons: Future, Future Noir, and Future Metal, which bear a close resemblance to the Modern versions of the icon
  • There are more and different UI themes, including four light versions and five dark versions where previously there were five total
  • Dark mode has been extended to the app’s Settings screens
  • Chrome and Firefox have been added as browser options for opening links
  • Service options for URL shortening, image uploads, and video uploads have been eliminated

The move to subscriptions isn’t easy. No matter how well it is handled, the change upsets a segment of users who aren’t willing to sign up. However, in the long run, a successful transition to subscriptions makes up for lost users with recurring revenue, which I’m sure an experienced development team like Tapbots has considered.

I have no issue with subscriptions conceptually, but they rightly carry the expectation that in return for regular payments, users will receive meaningful, periodic updates. Recognizing this, many developers time the move to a subscription with a substantial app update to start off on the right foot, which Tapbots hasn’t done. Tweetbot’s subscription is primarily based on the promise of future updates. Even though the Tweetbot subscription isn’t expensive, I think Tapbots owes its users more than it has delivered. It’s a shame because Tweetbot remains one of the premier third-party Twitter clients for iOS. Hopefully, the lack of new features in this update will be addressed in subsequent releases.

Tweetbot is available as a free download on the App Store, but a subscription is necessary to send tweets and access other features.



Twitter Announces New End-of-Life Date for APIs and Pricing That Affects Third-Party Apps

In April, Twitter delayed a transition to a new API that was expected to have a significant impact on third-party Twitter clients like Twitterrific and Tweetbot. The delay came in the wake of an outcry from users of third-party Twitter clients prompted by developers who banded together to encourage users to complain to Twitter about the API changes that were set to take effect on June 19, 2018. Today, Twitter announced that those changes would go forward on August 16, 2018 – about two months later than originally planned.

Yesterday, in an interview with Sarah Perez of TechCruch, Paul Haddad of Tapbots, the maker Tweetbot, said:

“Twitter has a replacement API that – if we’re given access to – we’ll be able to use to replace almost all of the functionality that they are deprecating,” he explains. “On Mac, the worst case scenario is that we won’t be able to show notifications for Likes and Retweets. Notifications for Tweets, Mentions, Quotes, DMs and Follows will be delayed one to two minutes,” Haddad adds.

He also says that Tweets wouldn’t stream in as they get posted, but instead would come in one to two minutes later as the app would automatically poll for them. (This is the same as how the iOS app works now when connected to LTE – it uses the polling API.)

In addition to announcing transition date, Twitter announced pricing for its new API, and it’s expensive. A subscription covering 100-250 users will cost $2899/month, which works out to over $11 per user for 250 users. Anyone with over 250 users, which would include all the major third-party Twitter clients, is advised to contact Twitter for enterprise pricing. However, the pricing on the API’s lower tiers doesn’t leave much room for optimism.

Third-party clients that can’t or don’t want to pay those prices will have to make do without timeline streaming and push notifications for likes and retweets. Other notifications will be delayed approximately 1-2 minutes according to statements by Haddad to TechCrunch.

For its part, Twitter has made it clear, that the functionality of the old APIs will not be coming to the new APIs:

“As a few developers have noticed, there’s no streaming connection capability or home timeline data, which are only used by a small amount of developers (roughly 1% of monthly active apps),” writes Twitter Senior Product Manager, Kyle Weiss, in a blog post. “As we retire aging APIs, we have no plans to add these capabilities to Account Activity API or create a new streaming service for related use cases.”

We contacted The Iconfactory, the maker of Twitterrific, and Tapbots,1 the maker of Tweetbot, to ask about the impact of the API changes on third-party clients and Twitter users. According to Iconfactory developer Craig Hockenberry:

A lot of functionality that users of third-party apps took for granted is going away. That was the motivation for the apps-of-a-feather.com website - to soften the blow of this announcement.

Hockenberry elaborated that The Iconfactory has reached out to Twitter regarding enterprise pricing for the new APIs, but says that he doesn’t anticipate the pricing will be affordable absent a significant discount.

On the one hand, this latest blow to third-party Twitter clients may be something that some users, including me, are willing to tolerate. On the other hand, this is yet another example of third-party client hostility demonstrated by Twitter stretching back at least five years that doesn’t bode well for the long-term viability of those apps. I asked Hockenberry what he thinks the changes mean to third-party Twitter apps. His response:

Long term, I don’t think there will be any apps other than the official one. I also don’t think Twitter realizes that many long-time users, who are highly engaged on the service, are also the people who use third-party apps. These folks will look elsewhere for their social media needs.

Given Twitter’s repeated hostility towards third-party clients, that’s a hard sentiment to argue against and one that gets my attention more than Twitter’s announcement. I can live with the latest changes to Twitter’s API, but if third-party developers conclude that their time and resources are better spent elsewhere, I expect the end of the Twitter I know and use today is closer than I thought.


  1. As of publication of this post, Tapbots has not responded to our inquiry. ↩︎

Tweetbot 3 for Mac Review

Tapbots has released Tweetbot 3 for Mac, which overhauls the app’s design, provides greater flexibility to manage multiple columns and navigate different parts of Twitter, and includes a dark mode. For the first time since it was introduced in 2012, Tapbots has also made version 3.0 a separate paid app, which means that existing and new users alike will have to pay $9.99 for the update.

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