Twitterrific vs. Twitter vs. Tweetbot: iPad Twitter client shootout

Tweetbot vs. Twitterrific vs. Twitter: iPad twitter app shootout!

The darling of hardcore iPhone twitter users comes to the iPad, but how does Tweetbot measure up on the big screen compared to Twitterrific and Twitter's own app?

Twitter may not be as big a social network as Facebook, but you can't turn on a television, let alone visit a website, without seeing an endless stream of @usernames and #hashtags. While smartphones are great for Twitter on the go, the iPad is perfect for sitting back and really getting engaged. But which Twitter app for iPad is the best to engage with? Not only do you have Twitterrific, the original iOS Twitter app, but you have Twitter's official Twitter for iPad app, and now you have Tweetbot to consider as well, one of the most popular iPhone Twitter apps, just released for the iPad.

We've often said iOS and Twitter and like chocolate and peanut butter, two great tastes that taste even better together. And it's true. Time after time, platform after platform, the best developers and designers always seem to gravitate towards making Twitter clients, and nothing proves that more than Twitterrific, Twitter, and Tweetbot.

So which one is best, or more importantly, which one is best for you?

Caveats

We're going to be using a lot of Twitter-specific jargon here. If you're not already familiar with Twitter and are reading this as a way to decide which app you should start with, be sure to check out our Twitter and social networking slang dictionary so you can get up to speed on also the latest terms. (Or just skip to the conclusion to find out which one you should get.)

Also, Twitter for iPad is currently still the version that began life as Tweetie for iPad by Loren Brichter of Atebits but was bought and rebranded by Twitter before release. Twitter has since redesigned the iPhone version of Tweetie/Twitter, and we expect will be redesigning the iPad version soon as well. When that happens, the pros and cons listed here will change dramatically, and we'll do an update.

Similarities

Since Twitterrific, Twitter, and Tweetbot are all Twitter apps for iPad, there are a great many similarities. They all have timelines to see the tweets of the people you follow. They all show you mentions, lists, and direct messages. They all let you search and see favorites. They all let you compose new tweets and direct messages. But the way in which they go about doing this varies greatly.

Reading Experience

Twitterrific has a combined timeline, so you see all the tweets of the people you follow listed alongside your @mentions and direct messages. You can read @mentions and direct messages as separate lists, but there's no option to separate view just the tweets of the people you follow. The sidebar contains those tabs, as well as search, recent searches, lists, and current trends.

Twitterrific makes extensive use of popovers (a combination of popup and dropdown menu that Apple introduced alongside iOS for the iPad), but it can also make you feel boxed in, unable to expand content like pictures and lists to fill the screen. All this makes Twitterrific a good reading experience, but not a highly scalable one.

Twitter for iPad uses an almost futuristic feeling, highly table-optimized sliding panel user interface that's also deeply divisive. Some love it, some loathe it. Everything you tap causes a new panel to slide in from the right, layer after layer, and you need to swipe them all away to get back to where you started. You can also pinch to zoom out on a tweet to bring up a user's profile, and pinch to zoom in to fold it away again. Twitter's sidebar contains a list of all your accounts (if you have more than one), and timeline, mentions, messages, lists, your profile, and search are shown for the currently active account. Overall, Twitter manages to feel scalable and spatial, but still simple to some, while annoying and needlessly fancy to others.

Tweetbot has a charmingly distinct user interface that some adore and others feel is overly loud and heavy. Instead of popovers or sliding panels, Tweetbot simply replaces the main window content with whatever you tapped on, be it timeline, user, or picture. That makes it harder to quickly refer back to something, but also removes a lot of the visual clutter that can otherwise build up. Tweetbot's sidebar presents tabs for timeline, mentions, messages, favorites, search, your profile, lists, retweets, and mute filters (so you can temporarily suppress people, hashtags, and even certain clients and services). The web view also has a toggle to switch between standard and Readability views.

Despite the distinctive design and gesture actions for more advanced users, Tweetbot behaves a lot like a standard iOS-app, making it easily accessible to new users as well.

Writing experience

Twitterrific's compose window is unique in that the content persists, even after you close it. If you start typing a tweet, then close it to go do something else, when you tap compose or hit reply again, your text will still be there. (You have to tap the counter and then hit Reset Text to clear it.) There are no auto-complete buttons, but if you type an @ (at) symbol it will start offering username suggestions. If you type a # (hashtag), however, it won't start offering trend suggestions, and you can't change which account you're replying from once you've begun to reply. Also, if you add a picture or video, no thumbnails are shown so if you come back later, you'll need to go to the link if you want to remind yourself what it was.

Twitter's compose window can quickly start looking like an unruly stack of papers, one piled atop the other. However, it means you have instant, same-screen access to the contents of your timeline and of any conversations you're joining, which makes checking references while you type a breeze. Twitter supports drafts, and offers auto-complete for both @mentions (which, ironically, brings up a popover in one of the few places Twitterrific does not) and #hashtags. If you add a photo or video with the camera button, you can preview it by tapping the camera button again, and there's a location button to toggle your coordinates on and off as well.

Tweetbot has a clean, clear composition screen but, aside from the tweet you're replying to, you lose out on the ability to reference any other content unless you cancel, save as draft, and come back later which is more cumbersome. There are buttons for auto-completing @mentions and #hashtags, and toggling location, and any photos you add are placed in the menu bar as thumbnails you can tap to view or remove.

Bells and whistles

Twitterrific doesn't yet support native iOS Twitter integration, which means you have to authenticate through the web the first time you set it up. (I'm guessing this will be updated in the not-to-distant future). Twitterrific also doesn't support push notifications, which means unless you have email or SMS alerts set up, you won't know if you get any mentions or direct messages until you open the app.

Twitterrific's settings are found in the built-in iOS Settings app, and there you can enable the Dark Theme for night-time use, set up Tweet Marker to sync your timeline position between different clients, like iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and toggle and customize services, including read later (called bookmark) and advanced features like custom media uploads as well.

Twitter for iPhone supports native iOS Twitter integration and push notification, but not Tweet Marker. Despite having been on the market for a significant amount of time, it never got all the power features Twitter for iPhone enjoyed, and likely won't given the almost certain redesign in its near future. You do have control over which image, video, and read later services you use. However, there's still no pull-to-refrsh direct messages and while it marks messages as unread, frustratingly, there's still no way to quickly mark them all as unread.

Tweetbot supports a ton of features, including native iOS Twitter integration, push notifications, and Tweet Marker. For notifications, it not only has options for mentions and direct messages, but retweets, favorites, follows, adds to lists, and subscribes to lists. It's almost too many, but they can be mitigated by sleep options that suppress them at night (just pick your start and end times).

You can also customize services, including read later and mobilizer (like Safari's built in Reader feature, but with your choice of provider). Literally, the options threaten to burst out of their popover.

Cost

Twitterrific is free but requires a $4.99 in-app purchase to turn off ads and turn on tweet translation and multiple account support. A universal binary, it supports both iPad and iPhone.

Twitter for iPad is free and also universal for iPad and iPhone.

Tweetbot is $2.99. It's not universal so the iPhone version will cost you another $2.99.

Conclusion

That part about there being an embarrassment of riches when it comes to iPad Twitter apps wasn't fluff or filler -- it was truth. Twitterrific, Twitter, and Tweetbot each come from brilliant designers and developers with sometimes very different visions for what the ideal Twitter app entails.

Twitterrific is great for new users who want a simple, stable experience, where everything is easy to find, and often all in one place. It doesn't have as many features, and lack of push notifications might be a show-stopper for some, but those who have been using it since the beginning and like the way it works and syncs consistently across iOS and OS X will also do well to stick with it.

Twitter for iPad, in its current form, is great for those who want fast access to literally layer upon layer of information. It's an audacious, inspired interface that's likely going to be replaced with something much more like the Twitter.com website, which also makes it very difficult to recommend to anyone who isn't already using it.

Tweetbot might feel over-designed to some, but it's well-designed. It has a ton of features for power users, including the best push-notification implementation in the business. As far as general purpose Twitter apps go, Tweetbot hits the best balance for the widest range of our readers.

Twitterrific could update any time now, and Twitter for iPad will be going through a substantial change soon, but as of right now, if the $2.99 price tag -- less than the cost of a fancy coffee, mind you -- doesn't give you pause, Tweetbot should be your go-to Twitter app for iPad.

- Twitterrific - Download now

- Twitter - Download now

- Tweetbot - Download now

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 33 comments. Add yours.

BLiNK says:

apparently i am the only one on the planet that still likes the "Official" app, lol

Mike says:

That makes us two, buddy :-)

cardfan says:

Same here. But i don't really use twitter much. Even less so on the ipad.

Mrjr says:

It's a good app, no doubt, but IMO, there are a couple clumsy interface choices, but most devastatingly.... it crashes like every time I try to open links. Drives me nuts.

val says:

Hey Maybe YOU can help me? I have been using I don't knwo what kind of twitter on my ipod. i know it is version 4.0.1 of whatever twitter. I like it and am new to twitter. I just got an IPAD and want to use the same on that. Ipod usually g oes with me whereas Ipad only sometimes. So I want to be on both so when i take either or with me it's available. Can you help me? lol my email is rockyfitz@hotmail.com

Jennifer says:

What about Timeline Sync - Sync your timeline position between iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Do any of these do that?
Am I the only one who cares about that feature? Echofon has sync,but I don't like that it limits me to 199 tweet downloads in my timeline. If I don't check for few hours, I miss tweets.

Leanna Lofte says:

Not sure about the official Twitter app, but Tweetbot and Twitterific have Tweetmarker support.

Jennifer says:

I was just on tweetbot's website looking for the feature and I don't see that feature. What am I missing or don't see?

Richard says:

So missing Tweetings then

Jesse says:

If I leave Tweetbot for a couple of days and then open it, will it have all of the tweets I missed, or will it be limited to a certain number? Right now I'm using Twtkr, since it's the only one I've found that will download all of them instead of just a few hundred. I already know that neither the official app nor Twitterrific do this, since I have tried both. I'd rather not pay for Tweetbot and find out it doesn't suit my needs as well as the free Twtkr.

Adrian says:

Tweetbot takes it home for sure in my opinion. Both for iPhone and iPad. I bought every twitter app out just to see which client provide me with the best experience. iLove this one hands down.

Adrian says:

Follow me @_AwillTraxx lol

Drh says:

$2.99 might not seem much, but its a significant departure from the majority of free / $0.99 Apps. Coupled with the fact that Tapbot then expects you to cough up twice by not going universal gas put me off. Finally, Twitters own app is perfectly functional, free and universal, you've got to be a bit anal about a service that involves typing 140 characters to snub free & universal for having to pay twice for something that does that does the same thing (but different) as the free alternative!

gewappnet says:

So what is about iMore and Echofon? Why do you always ignore Echofon when it comes to articles about Twitter clients? Do you have any problems with the developers?

Jon says:

I love Twittelator Neue sooo good. Is just very well polished

Joe says:

It's all about tweetings hd. Takes all that is good here and makes It amazing.

Randy says:

Withour Hootsuite in the mix this compare means nothing. The Hoot does it all, across multiple social networks AND btw...it's free.

@rkitekt says:

whew...glad to see someone else is recognizing the Hoot! It also allows you to schedule tweets and collaborate with other users on the same account, so it is great for business accounts too!

buy twitter says:

Wow, you sure covered this pretty extensively. Great stuff mate. And I gotta admit, Twiends is a fantastic service. Do you get a lot of traffic from twitter?

free ipad 2 no offers or surveys says:

People are complaining that it's $10/month, and ad-supported? Have you never heard of Cable or satellite television, that has far more ads than Hulu, and I can't just turn my television to channel x' and watch season 1 of Arrested Development?

Cira Doyen says:

I've heard of salt substitute being radioactive before, but I was never able to get much of a reading from it. Today I poured some Morton's "Lite Salt" onto a plate and was indeed able to see a noticable increase in CPM when I brought my geiger counter close to it. I didn't have my laptop hooked up at the time but I think it's easily 2-3x the background level.

Nancey Perciful says:

The list has gotten too big to import all the sites into google's ad filter.We need to think up another solution.

nikon af-s dx nikkor says:

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Linnie Nusser says:

Rating If you've got an iPhone or iPod Touch, have I got a book for you! I've had my touch for over a year, and like, like, like it. So does my dh (who is tiohncphobec), which has caused a bit of, um, tension. So, I'm getting my iPhone in 13 days. I've been reading everything I can get my hands on about the iPhone, just because that's the way I do things.Anyway, I got this book in the mail yesterday (thanks, Amazon Prime!). I can't place it down! I plotting I knew everything about using my Touch, but...wow! there are tricks in there I never, ever would have found on my own! If you want to get the most out of your device, get this book!

Interpret the bible says:

Mr. Mizla is simply wrong in everything he says. Whether he's just repeating the lies of others or making the stuff he says up as he goes along is irrelevant. The FACTS are simply otherwise. CO2 levels in crowded nightclubs commonly exceed 5,000ppm, and go even higher in submarines. Levels have also exceeded 800ppm in the period he refers to.

CLICK HERE FOR FACEBOOK BETA says:

I am lucky that I detected this weblog , precisely the right information that I was searching for! .

Peter says:

hi Nice article...
I love Twitter for iPad but I feel it is annoying that I cannot go further back than 8 hours. Am I doing something wrong ? or can I only see about 8 hours worth of twitts?

Deidra Baldus says:

Hi Jeff, So excited to see your tractor, like looking at mine before i started the restoration, Steve is correct, i do have some repro side decals i had made left over, although i was going to redo them again as one of the letters is very slightly out of alignment. (probably shouldn't worry about it).

Bruno Burin says:

Thank you a LOT for this article. I was so confuse.
My option : Tweetbot !!