Twitterrific 5 brings breathtaking new design, vicious new speed to Twitter for iPhone and iPad

Twitterrific is the Star Trek of iOS. Not only is it the original, but more than any other app, it has proven its ability to re-invent and re-invigorate itself, over and over again, from one generation to the next. From the Jailbreak days before the App Store to now, post Twitter API crackdowns, post-iPhone 5 and iPad mini, the Iconfactory, and with the team of Sean Heber, David Lanham, Craig Hockenberry, Gedeon Maheux, Tyler Anderson, and Cheryl Culling have continually moved Twitterrific forward while never losing what made it great to begin with. Old and yet new, simple and yet deep, Twitterrific 5 is startlingly beautiful and viciously fast, and represents nothing more or less than a re-imagining of the app and the genre.

(We have a full interview with Gedeon Maheux and David Lanham, with a behind-the-scene look at the making of Twitterrific 5 on this week's episode of Iterate so make sure you check it out!)

The new look is incredibly clean. The themes are white as day and black as night, the text incredibly crisp, and the interface filled with space and color. There are no gradients, no parallax, and almost no chrome to speak of. It'a authentically, proudly digital. A lot of that has to do with designer David Lanham, who began work on the look even before Iconfactory decided to go ahead with the new version of the app. In a very real way, Lanham painted it into existence, and it shows.

When you launch Twitterrific 5 you're prompted to grant permission for it to use your Twitter accounts, and then for you to add an account or accounts to Twitterrific 5. It's done simply and elegantly. And then you're in the app.

Twitterrific has always been about reading Twitter, and Twitterrific 5 is all about reading. Period. Everything else gets out of your way, and content is treated as the star.

Well, almost. Twitterrific's iconic Ollie, the bright blue bird responsible for even Twitter's own avian branding, has become the most delightful pull-to-refresh animation to date. Pull down and an egg breaks open, Ollie appears, flaps his wings to bring in fresh content, and then spins and pops out. It's outstanding. And addicting.

Here's the Ollie-to-refresh.

If and when you can bring yourself to stop playing with Ollie, you'll be in the timeline. As tradition demands, it's a unified timeline, which means the tweets of the people you follow, all your @mentions, and all your direct messages (DMs) are all sorted together in chronological order. Some people love this. Others don't. The Iconfactory recognizes that and, for the first time you can disable the unified timeline in settings (see below). Other timeline tabs here include @mentions and DMs, separate and distinct, just as you'd expect.

In the timeline, avatars are shown in roundrects, with usernames beside them and @names smaller and just beneath the usernames. Beneath that is the content of the tweet, brighter, and the time beneath that. Tap a tweet and the time is instantly replaced with reply, retweet, favorite, and more actions. Tap the more icon and you get a set of options including show discussion, translate tweet, email tweet, and retweet with comment.

Tap an avatar and you're taken to the person's profile page. All the stats are there, but if you dig deeper into followers or following, instead of the usual table view with avatars on the left and details on the right, you get a collection view of of avatars in a grid, with details below them.

If you're more into gestures than buttons, you can nudge the tweet from left to right to immediately switch to reply mode. Awesomely, the complete tweet you're replying to is show in tiny, low contrast type beneath the reply space, so you can immediately refer back to it You can also nudge from right to left to immediately switch to conversation view. In conversation view, you can choose between two tabs at the top, the default thread view, or an alternate replies view.

Instead of a hamburger button and basement, you get your own mugshot top left and tapping it takes you to an options screen where, aside from seeing your lists, you can switch from the tweets view to your favorites or to search. Search gives you the option of searching for keywords in either tweets, or in usernames.

At the bottom you can access accounts, change formatting, and adjust you preferences. Accounts lets you add other @usernames you might own. Formatting is something you usually find in ereaders, not Twitter apps, and certainly not in a Twitter app from a company with the generational taste of the Iconfactory. But here's the thing, Gedeon Maheux says they were inspired by iBooks and by the reading experiences that have flourished on iOS since Twitterrific first launched, and they've embraced the idea of options, if carefully selected, eminently tasteful ones. Formatting choices include several fonts, from the default Helvitica to Proxima Nova, Signika, Museo Slab, and Calluna. You can also select avatar size, between small and large, and increase or decrease the font size and line spacing. Lastly, you can choose between the dark (black) and light (white) theme, and adjust its brightness right there, right then. (I keep it on the dark theme. Black on a black-on-black iPhone or iPad mini is just fantastic looking.)

Preferences let you choose between sync services, including iCloud and Manton Reese's Tweet Marker, and sync behavior, including none, show marker, and scroll to marker. You can also turn sounds off and on, and turn the unified timeline on or off (off means no @mentions from people you don't follow, and no DMs, in your main timeline). You can set the dark theme to automatically turn on at night (based on time, Apple doesn't allow developers to tap into the ambient light sensor yet). And you can clear bookmarking logins.

There's also a help button which tells you all about Twitterrific's new gesture support. In addition to the Ollie-to-refresh, and the swipe-to-reply, swipe-to-view-conversation gestures, you can hide the status bar by pushing up with two fingers, and show it again by pulling down with two fingers. (And by some Hockenberry-ian magic, scroll-to-top still works even when the status bar is hidden. Brilliant.)

To attach the latest photo from Camera Roll, tap and hold the camera icon. To clear all text, tap and hold the counter. To switch accounts, tap and hold your mugshot at the top left. To get more options, tap and hold tweets, links, and avatars.

That's the brilliance of Twitterrific 5, and why it strikes the best balance of any version to date. It presents all the basic features clearly and obviously, with buttons and spatial mapping and all the bells and whistles new users not only expect, but really need. Yet for advanced users, tons of shortcuts and edge features are tucked neatly away in gestures and pref sheets.

Twitterrific 5 doesn't have all the features of some other Twitter clients. There are no mute filters. There are no push notification support... yet. Gedeon Maheux says the Iconfactory has architected for it, and is certainly open to it, and they'll listen to feedback from Twitterrific 5 users and use that to help determine their priorities for Twitterrific 5 going forward. It's a true tabula rasa approach, and just like when Apple re-inevents their software, they're starting with the core and will build from that going forward.

For some people that'll be a deal breaker. For others, it'll just means another app will handle Twitter push, and perhaps Twitter triage, and Twitterrific will be the go-to reader for when tweets over time are more important than tweets right now.

Speaking of right now, however.. Twitterrific 5 is fast. It's Star Wars blast door crashing closed an inch behind your head fast. It's action at the speed of smash cut fast. I don't know how much that has to do with a lot of the interface being produced programmatically -- according to David Latham, aside from the avatars and button icons, almost all of it is done in code -- and how much is fiendishly clever coding, but it's one of the fastest apps I've had the joy of using. It's so fast, I enjoy using it just to experience the speed.

I enjoy using it period.

It's Twitterrific, the Next Generation. Again. It has everything that made the original great, torn down to its essence, and built back up for today's iOS devices and iOS device users. It remains the best reading experience on Twitter, and in that regard, Twitterrific 5 is better even than its predecessors.

Note: Twitterrific 5 has been redesigned and recoded from pixel to bit, and as such -- and because Apple doesn't allow upgrade pricing -- it's being offered as a completely new app (not an update). However, the Icon Factory is offering Twitterrific 5 at 50% off at launch, so in effect, everyone who acts fast gets heavily discounted upgrade pricing. Also, just like every other third-party Twitter app, Twitterrific faces user token limits as well, which means they can only ever sell a limited amount of copies. That creates scarcity, and eventually scarcity increases prices. In other words, third-party Twitter apps will only get more expensive over time, as tokens run out. If you enjoy using Twitterrific, want to support the developers so they can afford to keep working on it and making it even better, and secure your tokens for posterity, grab it now.

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.

  • No push notifications, no hash tags and/or client muting, no syncing those mute tags across to other clients (iOS and Mac), no thank you to Twitterrific..
  • Big Tweetbot fan here Rene and I decided to take the plunge and buy it since its on sale. Figured I would try something new for awhile. One thing I must point out that it is a much different experience compared to Tweetbot. The UI is almost Metro like in my opinion. It is beautiful and a nice change. Definitely not for the power user in my opinion. Lack of push notifications sucks but I'm sure people will complain and they will add it. Hopefully.
  • I am also a tweetbot fan, took the plunge for the same reason you did, and totally agree with your assessment. I didn't notice the lack of push. The deal-breaker for me was the inability to add people to lists straight from their profile. Once I follow someone I want to organize them in my lists but you can't do it in Twitteriffic. I do like the appeal of it and I love that it has a feel like Clear (a gesture-based to do list app) but you're right that it's just not for power users.
  • Anyone know if Twitter Lists are available as an option? I haven't read my "Timeline" in years and rely solely on lists.
  • Yup, see the screen shots above. They're in the option screen.
  • So are they going to release a new app every time they update the app and we have to pay $ again? And i cant upgrade from the version ive had for years? Hell no!
  • I wish more developers would do that. Just because I bought a hamburger at McDonald's yesterday doesn't mean I get a new hamburger for free today. Just because my boss paid me yesterday doesn't mean he can skip paying me today. Even if each version of Twitterrific cost $5 or $10 dollars, paying that much for a YEAR (or more) of use is literally nothing. It's a penny or four a day. It's less than that hamburger I'm not getting for free. I want Twitterrific 6, so I'm paying for Twitterrific 5. Happily.
  • Your logic is flawed. Food is a perishable commodity, unless these apps have an expiry date, then your argument doesn't work in terms of this discussion. I agree that app makers should make money on their products, but to release an app, and then not offer reduced pricing to previous generations is a slap in the face to the people who supported Twitterrific's previous generation apps. That's the main reason why I'm not buying this app, not to mention all the other flaws like no push, etc.
  • I have to agree here. I get what Rene was saying, but that was a ridiculous analogy. While people do tend to have unrealistic expectations and an often laughable sense of entitlement when it comes to tech/software of any kind, it's always a nice gesture and nod your current customers to (at least) offer a discount. In this particular case, with the 50% off - and with it being a completely new app - I think it's more than fair for the developers to ask for $2.99 I may grab it now, although I won't bother using it until there's push and mute filters. A Twitter app without those two features is useless to me... but I assume they're coming, so I'll take the plunge.
  • App consumers are beyond ridiculously entitled. When anything over 99 whole cents is looked at as expensive, people bitch about having to pay a whopping $5 for an app they use all day almost daily, then complain after being asked to pay ANOTHER 3 bucks 2 years later. This after they smiled and spent $850 on a tablet.
  • The analogy might be flawed, so lets go with software. If i buy Windows 7 or Office 2010 do i get Windows 8 or Office 2013 free? No. Small updates should be free, for bigger updates their should be a method of charging a true "upgrade price" that takes note of the fact you own a previous release. As this isn't an option now the discounted launch price is more than acceptable. Games like Angry Birds have given us this flawed logic that our 59p initial payment covers us for year upon year of free updates which take considerable development. Angry Birds had exponential sales to cover their costs. Others don't.
  • No push? No mute? Ain't nobody got time for that!!
  • "Twitterrific is the Star Trek of iOS" That could be an insult or compliment?
  • Lol, touché.
  • Wow, that's awesome. I currently don't have an iOS device but am going to be back very soon. I'm buying this right now anyway and going to load up my token on my bro's iPhone.
  • I've tried a few twitter clients over the last few years but this is only the second i've paid for. For now its replacing echofon pro. Initially i like it, however i could do with a more compressed layout - even with the text at a sensible level and the image reduced (smaller images don't save space after a point) I can still see less tweets than echofon and that uses more screen space for menus. There needs to be an option to reduce the space between tweets. There seems to be at least 2mm between tweets which on an iPhone just seems like a waste. Also, if we could chose between @username, full name or seeing both it would be good. Start the first line of the tweet alongside the image if needed.
  • I was startled so much by its startling beauty, I just screamed at work.
  • This app looks nice, I will agree. But the lack of functionality (namely, no push, not being able to mute, and the multiple steps required to switch between accounts) makes it not as useful for me. Personally, I'm sticking with Tweetbot. Tweetbot's functionality is just too nice.