Tweetbot is one of the most popular Twitter apps available for iOS, and quite possibly second to only the official Twitter app. The developers of Tweetbot have just launched a client for OS X. The Mac app isn’t just new, it’s bleeding raw. Taking advantage of their existing user base, the developers have launched the app in a public Alpha. They’ve given users fair warning that bugs are to be expected, and have also provided a list of things they know are missing and will eventually make it to the final version. The alpha version is free, and the app will remain so until version 1.0 launches, after which there will be a price tag on the app, even for alpha users. As per the official site, the app aims to be as similar to its iOS counterpart as possible, and that has been the core focus for the developers. This review not only explores how the app itself works, but also compares it with the iOS app to see how well the developers have succeeded in mimicking the experience for Mac users.
Interface & Preferences
The app’s interface positions all controls to the left in a vertical bar. The rest of the app window (which is resizable) is dedicated to displaying tweets, messages, searches etc. The button next to the traffic light buttons allows you to quickly switch to a list that you follow. The button at the top right allows you to compose a new tweet. A small cog wheel at the bottom right of the window is, we guess, for accessing Tweetbot’s preferences. It was one of the features that was unresponsive during our test. You can still access the app’s preferences from the menu bar, though.
From Tweetbot’s preferences, you can add additional Twitter accounts and manage a few general settings, like which sounds are played and the font size. You can also choose the Quote format for when you retweet an item. The Account tab in preferences lets you choose which services are to be used when you tweet, i.e., which URL shortner, image and video sharing service to employ.
How It Works
The toolbar on the right helps you navigate the app. From top to bottom, the buttons allow you to view your feed, tweets you’ve been mentioned in, direct messages, tweets you’ve favorited, saved searches and Twitter search, view your own profile, manage lists, tweets that people you follow have retweeted, and view users, hash tags, keywords and clients that you’ve muted. The Edit button that appears at the top of some of the tabs appears to do nothing, and is likely one of the alpha bugs.
When replying to or writing a new tweet, the tweet box shows the number of remaining characters, and a cog wheel at the bottom left lets you add an image and/or location to your tweet.
Tweetbot has a built-in image viewer, and previews image thumbnails in the timeline as they appear. Occasionally, it takes a while to load the thumbnail, but mostly it’s pretty smooth. The image viewer is reasonably good, and has options for saving the image, copying it, viewing the website that it is from, and tweeting the link to the picture. Videos and articles open in your browser. Hover your mouse over a tweet and options to reply, retweet, favorite, read later, copy link or tweet it, read a detailed conversation, and retweets by that user appear.
Comparison With The Tweetbot iOS App
As far as interface is concerned, the developers have nailed every detail of it in the Mac variant. Taking advantage of the space available on a desktop app, the additional functions that you could access by holding down one of the last two buttons at the bottom of the iOS app have earned their own spot. The options available for functionality are the same as found in the iOS app. Tweets by people you follow are displayed with the user’s profile picture at the left, and your own tweets appear with your display image at the right.
Unlike the iOS app, which allows you to view all content without leaving it, the Mac app currently has only an image viewer. Links to websites and/or videos open in your default browser. The image viewer is not as impressive (interface wise) as it is in the iOS flavor, but that might have more to do with viewing it on a larger screen. When an image is loading, a small clock circle appears on the image’s thumbnail preview, as opposed to the linear progress bar you see in the iOS app.
Overall, even in alpha, it is easy to see why this app was so greatly anticipated. Once the developers work the bugs out, the stable version will be worth the buck. For those of you who want to give the alpha a try, head over to the official Tweetbot website first and read up on what the developers have explicitly identified as missing features and bugs, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Remember, being the pre-release version, there will be bugs. If you don’t have the temperament to deal with them, you should hold off until the stable version is available.