Tweetbot not only twitters, it hums

Spoiler alert! Tweetbot promises to enhance your tweeting experience. I’m not sure that’s possible, but it’s better than the free iPad app. Four stars


I never saw the point of Twitter. I make it a point to hold onto some element of my luddite life because I suspect that total surrender to technology will either reduce us to bodies with the brains of amoebas or unleash Skynet. Or both. Twitter seemed to be one of those places to draw the line.

I originally intended for it to be Facebook, but my sister Aimee convinced me it would at least put up the appearance of trying to keep touch with my family. Then Aimee’s photography business took off and she no longer even logs in except to tell cute Nathan stories. Nathan is her youngest and she’s always posting cute Nathan stories. Stephen, her oldest, never gets cute Stephen stories. I know how he feels. My parents always told cute Beth stories, then cute Aimee stories, but never cute Phillip stories.

That’s nothing to tweet about, however. In fact, I can’t think of much worth tweeting about. So I resisted the tweetiverse until Apple chose Tweetbot as its iPad app of the week. I considered continuing to resist, but I figured that if I could review Vera Wang on Weddings last week, I should at least open Tweetbot and give it a look.

Tweetbot is actually called Tweetbot—The Twitter Client with Personality for iPad, a name almost as long as the full name of the Hamlet game I reviewed last year. I suppose they chose the name because it’s too long to tweet, but the only personality I found was in the icon. The rest of the app was well-designed and functional. But I couldn’t detect a hint of personality.

The only personality I could find in Tweetbot was the app icon. The artwork that inspired it had even more personality. In the end however, an app is just an app.

Since I had no baseline app to compare Tweetbot to, I downloaded the free Twitter app. Tweetbot looks a lot better, fills the entire screen and adds a few wrinkles. As a whole, however, both apps are comparable. If you live for tweets, I would say you will prefer Tweetbot. If you just want to read tweets, I can’t see why you would want to spend the $3.

When I say both apps are comparable, I mean both behave almost exactly the same. Both apps have two windows, a message window and a navigation pane that allows you to control what the message window shows. Twitter compresses the two windows, leaving most of the iPad screen empty. Tweetbot uses the entire screen.

The full screen format essentially allows users to change text size and display without sacrificing legibility. (To be honest, I didn’t find a control setting that allowed me to change display size). The navigation pane also offers a few more options, including retweets and favorites.

Side-by-side comparison shows the real differences between Tweetbot and the free Twitter app. Twitter uses only a small section of the screen, but Tweetbot also provides a few more selection and navigation options.

I found it easy to set up an account and figure out how to use Twitter without resorting to documentation. Within minutes I found dozens of tweets I would have been interested in following if they weren’t tweets but longer articles. I found Aimee’s business tweets, Bill Maher and even The Onion. I looked up personalities, but when I got to Ellen Degeneres and Summer Glau it felt creepy. Like stalking.

Then I asked myself, what if their tweets show that they aren’t very bright? Or even interesting? I realized that was a possibility after reading several of Bill Maher’s tweets. I hate to say it, but he probably needs to hire writers for his tweets as well. So I decided to drop it.

When does following begin and stalking end? I’m a big fan of actress Summer Glau, but when I actually found the different tweet locations I felt a little creepy. (Although I suspect she was channeling her inner terminator when she wrote many of them).

Tweetbot definitely makes it easier to find and revisit posters. Not only does it following trending posts, like Twitter, it keeps track of popular sites by topic. If you want to follow science and technology, or look for comedians, Tweetbot keeps them categorized for you. If you find a site you really love, you can make it a favorite and check in instantly.

Tweetbot also keeps track of mentions and lists just like Twitter. In fact I couldn’t find an app function in Twitter that wasn’t done at least as well in Tweetbot.

It occurred to me while playing with Tweetbot that I could tweet comments about apps I download for review that I don’t think deserve a full review. Will I do it? I don’t know. Will I do it with Tweetbot? Probably. I should get something back for my three dollars and I wouldn’t even think about it after playing with Twitter’s app.

What I won’t be doing is following tweets. Other than the Onion’s, I didn’t read anything that seemed insightful. Or even that interesting. But if I ever wrote a parody for McSweeney’s, I might start with Wittgenstein’s tweets.

Jenny Manytoes rates Tweetbot

Jenny Manytoes would purr next to Tweetbot. It’s a solid app with a professional interface that delivers more value than what you can get for free. It might even tempt you to start tweeting yourself. But I’m sure that after a good night’s sleep, the temptation would pass.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.
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About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 4 Stars - Purr, Utilities and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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