The more Twitter changes, the more difficult it is to use third-party apps
According to my Twitter profile, I joined the social network in April of 2008. That's more than 13 years ago. And for those 13 years, I've been using a variety of third-party apps. Tweetie started it all. Then Tweetbot. I've used others like Aviary and Twitteriffic, too. But never the official Twitter app. Not for any length of time.
That's going to change sooner rather than later, whether I want it to or not.
Over the years we've seen Twitter do its best to kill third-party Twitter apps. We've seen it backtrack as well, giving developers access to an improved API. Tweetbot 6 — one of the best iPhone apps around — uses that API and just so happens to be my Twitter app of choice. But it isn't enough.
Over the last few months, we've seen Twitter on a roll, announcing — and having people find — new features and changes to the platform. Super Follows are one example. It's now testing some sort of dislike button, too. Twitter is making it easier to avoid people in your mentions and Birdwatch fact-checking is rolling out as well.
But you need the Twitter app to use any of it. Tweetbot can't, and likely never will, see any of these changes. That's grim, and it means people like me will have to switch.
Now, I know that's what Twitter wants. They want me to have to see their ads — I'd pay to remove them if possible — and they want me to be held hostage by their algorithm and tweet recommendation system. They can't force any of that onto Tweetbot users, but those using its own app are fair game. That's going to be me soon, too.
It isn't just about what the app does, either. It's what it doesn't do. Twitter still doesn't sync your timeline position across multiple devices and the odd time I do dip my toes into the iPhone app, it jumps around the timeline every time it refreshes the feed. it's infuriating, and it'll make using Twitter less enjoyable when I have to use it.
The fix? Ideally, I'd rather Twitter treat third-party apps as first-class citizens, but that isn't going to happen. At the very least I'd like the first-party apps to offer some of what the likes of Tweetbot and Twitteriffic offer — starting with that timeline sync.
Oh. And let me pay to never see an ad again, too. I can't imagine I'm alone here.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.
The answer is obvious. Stop using Twitter.
I will not use the native Twitter app. I will quit before I do that. There was an alternative to Twitter out there. It costs $35 a year to join and there were no ads. People couldn't bring themselevs to be the first to switch, so it died on the vine. It was better than Twitter, and it was cleaner, and very functional. And didn't have the original limit of characters either. Social media knows too many people are sheep to threaten their hegemony. Give me a decent non-invasive, non-algorithm-driven social media replacement for Facebook and Twitter, and I'd switch in a New York minute, if others would have the savvy to see the benefit of doing so. I'll even go first and hope others come along!