The Twitter industry has got to be one of the fastest growing industries in history. There are endless services and programs to support this very basic yet addictive concept of micro blogging in 140 characters. There are many desktop clients for Mac and PC, some of my favorites include TweetDeck, Digsby, Twhirl, and most recently DestroyTwitter, although, their marketing team needs to do something about the image their name gives them. Other Twitter tools that I use often are Web-based services such as Twittercounter, Tweetlater, Twitter Search, Twitpic, and many others. Let's not forget the whole Twitter Firefox add-on realm. TwitterFox, Twitbin, Power Twitter, and others. The bottom line is, as you can see, Twitter is not only addictive to its users, it seems to be causing quite an ongoing battle in the developer world as well.
There is, however, one area, in which Twitter has not generated endless choices for the consumer. Twitter iPhone applications are not as common as desktop clients, Web-based services, or Firefox add-ons. There really are only a few iPhone apps from which the iPhone user can choose. I recently decided to try one of the few apps that are not free in the app store, Tweetie, after coming across many people, Kevin Rose, among them, who went on and on about its greatness.
So after using it for some time, I have to say, I have very mixed feelings about the app. Let's start with the positive. The interface is clean, easy to navigate, and includes, as far, as I can tell, any possible function one would want on Twitter, well almost anyway. I am talking nice columns at the bottom separating tweets, replies, DMs, favorites, and a column called More, where the app presents you with some more advanced features. The advanced features include viewing your profile, finding any Twitter user and viewing their profile, Nearby tweets and Instapaper, two features that are not offered by any other Twitter app, as far as I know, Twitter trends, and Twitter search. Other features not offered by other apps include saving tweets as drafts, swiping your finger across a tweet to reply or view that person's profile, and the big fish, having multiple Twitter accounts within the app.
All in all, I am talking a very advanced, clean, easy-to-use iPhone app. However, and here come's the bad news, I do not believe this app is worth the $2.99 that it costs. There are some major flaws with this app, that do not allow it to rise above the other apps being offered for free by Apple. Let's start with the lack of notifications when new tweets, replies, or DMs exist. I am not really understanding the point of those clean looking columns on the bottom, without the functionality of a notification when there is something unread in one of those columns. iPhone users receive those nice notifications when new email exists, new app updates are available, and when there are new Facebook updates in the Facebook app, so why not in Tweetie?
Another feature that I felt was missing or more accurately, not implemented well, is the famous and most basic retweeting option. In my opinion, the RT should be as easily available to the user as Reply or Look up Profile. Twitter without retweeting is like a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup without peanut butter (I just had one of those). RTing is really a fundamental part of Twitter and it is not available here, unless specifically added in the experimental tab, and even when I asked my followers on Twitter how it is done in Tweetie, I got a response that it is currently unavailable. I later found it, but I think that aspect needs improvement.
I am sure I missing this feature, but can someone tell me where I set the Auto Refresh interval in Tweetie? I am sure such an advanced app cannot be missing such basic functionality, or can it? OK, this is getting a little too long for my liking, so I am going to sum up and say that the nearby tweets function as well as the multiple accounts give Tweetie a little bit of an edge over its free competitors. However, the lack of notifications, an easy RT function, as well as some other odds and ends, make Tweetie an awesome app, that if it was free, would be the best out there. Since Tweetie is not free, I am going to have to agree with Alex Albrecht and not Kevin Rose that TwitterFon is the way to go. Twitterfon has those notifications, RT could not be easier, and all in all, the interface is just as clean and easy to use.
Twitterfon does not have nearby tweets or multiple accounts, but let's be honest, what do you use more? Replies, DMs, RTs, or nearby tweets and multiple Twitter accounts? I would just like to end off and say that Tweetie is an awesome app that I am going to continue to use before I make a final decision on which app to keep. The truth is the more I use it, the more I like it. It is growing on me, but I want to say to the developers, who I know are listening, since they know about this review, add notifications, make RTs easier, and you got yourself the number 1 Twitter app available in the App Store.
Please share your comments on Tweetie, Twitterfon, or any other tool that makes our Twitter experience that much more enjoyable.
Update: Tweetie also offers a landscape keyboard to Tweet, but it is automatic and not accelorometer-based, so it's just annoying in my humble opinion. Also, you can follow everyone mentioned in this post on Twitter at the following links: Me, Tweetdeck, Digsby, Twhirl, DestroyTwitter, Twitpic, Twitterfox, Twitbin, PowerTwitter, Kevin Rose, Alex Albrecht, Tweetie, TwitterFon.