Comparing iPhone Twitter app timeline views

It's often been said that we enjoy an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Twitter apps for iPhone. Some of the best developers and designers have spent months and years crafting, and in some cases continually re-crafting, app for Twitter, striving for their versions of perfection. And this in spite of Twitter's recent proclamations encouraging third party clients to walk out onto ice flows or sand dunes and die already. Over the weekend, Phil Nickinson compared 17 Twitter app timelines for Android, and he promptly challenged me to do the same for iPhone. I one-upped him with 18, though admittedly I cheated by including 3 discontinued Twitter apps in the comparison.

It's interesting to see them all gridded up, to see the juxtaposition of consistency vs. creativity, readability vs. information density. I used the exact same feed point for each client, with the exception of the legacy apps at the bottom. It includes an @mention so that we can see how, if at all, a client highlights or otherwise distinguishes that type of post. I also got rid of ads, wherever possible, to keep things clean, and made sure basic controls were in a visible state.

Here then, in order, from top left to bottom right, are:

  1. Twitter (opens in new tab), Twitterrific (opens in new tab), Tweetbot (opens in new tab)
  2. Flurry (opens in new tab), Twittelator Neue (opens in new tab), Twittelator Pro (opens in new tab)
  3. Watercooler (opens in new tab), Tweetlist (opens in new tab), Tweetcaster (opens in new tab)
  4. Tweetlogix (opens in new tab), Echofon Pro (opens in new tab), Tweetings (opens in new tab)
  5. Tweetdeck (opens in new tab), UberSocial (opens in new tab), Osfoora (opens in new tab)
  6. Birdfeed, Tweetie, Reportage (discontinued)

Of course, the timeline view is only one aspect of a Twitter app, and can't properly address features and flourishes like gestures, notifications and filters, parallax image embeds, sorting, and other ways some of the clients have innovative and provided extra enjoyment and value.

Consider this comparison, then, just a start.

(Yes, the hero shot above is Ollie and Twitterrific 1.0, the original iPhone app that started it all, and one of the first inductees into our Hall of Fame.)

And if you want DVD-style extras, and a peak behind the scenes of your favorite Twitter apps, check out:

  • Debug 1: Loren Brichter and Tweetie
  • Debug 2: Paul Haddad and Tweetbot
  • Iterate 35: Gedeon Maheux, David Lanham and Twitterrific 5
  • Debug 5: Craig Hockenberry, Sean Heber, and Twitterrific

Meanwhile, look over the designs above and let me know what you think. Which Twitter apps do you use, and are they the same ones that appeal to you most in the comparison above? Any of the timelines attractive enough they encourage you check out an alternative app? And how do you think they compare to the best and brightest of the Android Twitter app timelines Phil looked at?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Tweetbot all the way!
  • Echofon Pro! Maybe because I bought it at the very beginning, but I love it.
  • way to kill it with your spam >.>
  • Yea please no spam.
  • You could have really put Phil to shame and added more:
    Buffer Just to name a few.
  • I tried to include Hootsuite but they seemed to want me to create a separate, non-Twitter account, which made me axe it immediately.
  • $85 an hour! Seriously I don't know why more people haven't tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening…And what’s awesome is I’m working from home so I get more time with my kids. Here’s where I went,
  • Please no SPAM!!
  • Tweetbot seems to be listed twice, on the first and second row, all the way on the right. I think Twittelator Pro is shown, but listed as Tweetbot again.
  • Yup, fixed!
  • Pardon me if this is the world's dumbest question, but here goes: Viewing the tweets of everyone I follow, sorted by *most recent tweet first*, always feels profoundly unsatisfying to me. It's a jumble of a million different trains of thought... the ultimate in ADD. Are there any Twitter clients that let me sort my timeline by *most recent user first*, with all the tweets from that user collapsed under their name? E.g.: If Rene Ritchie, The Hulk, and Xena have each been tweeting nonstop for the last hour, in the standard timeline I'd be seeing their tweets all jumbled together: Rene -- Tweet 10
    Rene -- Tweet 9
    Hulk -- Tweet 10
    Xena -- Tweet 10
    Rene -- Tweet 8
    Xena -- Tweet 9
    Hulk -- Tweet 9
    Hulk -- Tweet 8
    Rene -- Tweet 7
    Xena -- Tweet 8 ... etc. But my ideal view, sorted by most recent user, would look something like: Rene -- Tweet 10
    Hulk -- Tweet 10
    Xena -- Tweet 10
    Cher -- Tweet 10
    Rumi -- Tweet 10
    etc. Tapping any user would expand to reveal all their tweets I haven't yet read (or all tweets since my last check-in), like so: - - - - -
    Rene -- Tweet 10
    Rene -- Tweet 9
    Rene -- Tweet 8
    Rene -- Tweet 7
    - - - - -
    Hulk -- Tweet 10
    Xena -- Tweet 10
    Cher -- Tweet 10
    Rumi -- Tweet 10
    etc. Is there any client that comes close to this?
  • Reportage used to work this way.
  • I have basically the same question about facebook. I wish I could read FB in *oldest to newest* order.. I guess it would have to be grouped by day (obviously I don't want it to start at the beginning of FB time every time I go there).. but after that, I want oldest->newest.
  • You can do almost exactly this with Tweetbot. It won't hide tweets in your timeline (all those Tweet 9, 8 & 7s) but a single tap on a User's icon within any tweet shows all of that User's tweets. (Due to space constraints Tweetbot for iPhone requires two taps to do this — the first takes you to their profile overview & the second to their tweets — but still.) Note that it only works when you tap on the User's icon; tapping elsewhere within a tweet brings up the reply, retweet, favorite, share & details options.
  • Good question, that is something I'm looking for as well. I hate having a huge, jumbled-up mess to try to sift through.
  • I'll be doing a differentiated feature version of the comparison soon, as well as an iPad version sooner.
  • It's Tweetbot all the way for me on iPhone and iPad. List management is handled very nicely which is vital.
  • I was hooked on TweetLogix for a while, but once I downloaded TweetBot there was no need to even think about another app on my 4s/iPad. Only other Twitter app I occasionally open is the "Official" app bc it actually recommends some good (bball/soccer/sneakers) articles in the "discover" tab for me. It's really the only thing I open it for bc anything TLine/List related I can't even think about anything other than TweetBot.
  • I agree Tweetbot is great especially with lists, but Twitterific has taken its place as of late on my dock as it is just plane gorgeous and minimal. I keep trying to go back, but miss it too much. We will see what I use next week. Tweetbot is easily the one I've used the longest and I have it on my retina iPad, iPad mini, and iPhone 5. I can't use Twitterific on my tablets though it just doesn't look as good on a larger display. So I'm jumping back and forth between the two depending on the device I'm using.
  • Tweetbot for life.
  • Echofon
  • Twitterific. Too cool for school.
  • I've been trying to branch out, but Tweetbot keeps me coming back for more...
  • I use Tweetlogix, Tweetbot and Twitter's app. I tried Twitteriffic, but it has issues where it won't upload a tweet and if I upload a picture it sends it out multiple times. I have three different twitter handles so I have each Twitter app for each one, but the one I use the most is Tweetlogix. It's my go-to Twitter app.
  • i use tweetbot largely because it has a full conversation view. i got use to using it when jailbroken and when i tried the official twitter i couldn't find all the posts in conversation view, only a few. plus getting to conversations wasn't intuitive. I got frustrated and bit the bullet and bought Tweetbot.
  • Should a web app count? I just use a homescreen bookmark for the Twitter web app.
  • Does anybody know of a twitter app that works in landscape?
    I used to love how the official app would do it?!
    Big Tweetbot fan btw
  • What's the name of the Twitter app in the photo in the beginning of the article and how come it isn't in the list? :)
  • Rene pointed out that "the hero shot above is Ollie and Twitterrific 1.0, the original iPhone app that started it all". Twitterrific 5 is on the list.
  • I've been a Twitterrific lover since day one.
  • Ah, thanks!
  • TweetBot is the winner here.
  • I know I'm a weirdo, but I actually prefer the official Twitter app.
  • I just use the native Twitter app, it seems to do what all the others do. Or for that matter all I need it do.