Since 2011, Twitter has strongly discouraged the creation of Twitter clients and anything that emulates the functionality of its own apps. The already-awkward situation is made more frustrating for developers who can’t add new Twitter features like Cards to its apps, and who face a hard ceiling of 100,000 users for their new apps. Last week, Windows 8 app Tweetro hit the limit Twitter imposed on new clients, and was forced to publish another app called Tweetro+ that isn’t free. At the end of the day, it’s the worst time ever to launch a Twitter app, but that hasn’t stopped several top developers from trying. Tapbots launched Tweetbot for Mac, developer Aaron Ash launched Flurry, and today The Iconfactory launched Twitterrific 5 for iOS, an entirely new app, in the App Store for $2.99.
A bright vision of Twitter much different than what we've come to expect from most apps
The app’s been completely redesigned from the ground up to be a bright vision of Twitter much different than what we've come to expect from most blue-gray Twitter apps. Not only does the app look refreshing from the get-go thanks to lead designer David Lanham, but it lets you modify its colors, fonts, and text sizes. You can remove avatars, modify line height so that you can view a ton of tweets at once, or make text so small it’s only legible on a Retina display. There’s even a check box that lets Twitterrific change your theme from light to dark based on the time of day — and the dark theme is slick (pictured above). Twitterrific's range of visual customization options is truly excellent.
Another highlight is a redesign of the Following, Followers, and people search pages, which display people in grid view instead of list view. Like most things in Twitterrific, it’s prettier than it is useful. Tweetbot, on the other hand, displays a less vibrant list of people, but next to each person is the amount of followers he or she has — a useful feature.
Aside from a charming visual revamp, Twitterrific 5 includes a variety of features like pull-to-refresh, fast account switching, gestures for replying or viewing conversations, iCloud / Tweet Marker syncing for timelines with Twitterrific for Mac, and offline support for posting and favoriting tweets. The pull-to-refresh is especially inspiring — a tug on your timeline pops up an egg, which cracks open as you pull further. Out of the egg flies Ollie, Twitterrific's mascot, who flaps his wings as your tweets load. It's an "aww" moment the first time you see it. As much character as Twitterrific's features have, almost all of them come months after competitor Tweetbot debuted them. I do however really appreciate the fact that Twitterrific 5 is universal, meaning you’ll pay one price for an iPhone and iPad app.
Despite an influx of new features, Twitterrific is far from feature-complete by today’s standards, lacking tweet streaming over Wi-Fi, a gallery of images a person has uploaded, header images, the now common back-swipe gesture, and push notifications for mentions, direct messages, and new followers. The app’s nevertheless a quite pleasurable, if casual, way to browse your timeline, tweet at friends, and read news articles. It might not be for Twitter "power users," but it's impossible not to love. Patrick Gant tweeted today: "I like that @Tweetbot and @Twitterrific each offers an entirely different way of experiencing Twitter," and he’s right. There’s enough room for Twitter apps of all shapes and sizes. Despite Twitter's attempts to pave over the app ecosystem, Twitterrific is a perfect example of how a flower can still push through the concrete.