After months of being in alpha and beta phase, Tweetbot for Mac has finally arrived, and in a rather controversial way, with its $20 price tag taking everyone by surprise. However, this high price is completely justified when you take a look at Tweetbot. It is the most polished and feature-packed Twitter client out there, and considering the state of Twitter apps in the near future, this release was a sorely needed one as well.
Let’s just get this out of the way to start with. $20 is an incredibly high price for a Twitter client, and choosing to pay this much will be a hard decision for many prospective buyers. Although an important thing to note is that this price was not solely imposed by Tapbots, but more the result of Twitter’s new rules regarding third-party applications. Paul Haddad from Tapbots summarises it best, saying
Because of Twitter’s recent enforcement of token limits, we only have a limited number of tokens available for Tweetbot for Mac. These tokens dictate how many users Tweetbot for Mac can have. The app’s limit is separate from, but much smaller than, the limit for Tweetbot for iOS. Once we use up the tokens granted to us by Twitter, we will no longer be able to sell the app to new users. Tapbots will continue to support Tweetbot for Mac for existing customers at that time.
Because of these new rules, Twitter clients are a dying breed. It is now so hard to make a profit from a Twitter app, that to most developers, there really is no point. This makes Tweetbot even more important to Twitter users now. As Paul Haddad mentioned, there will eventually come a time when Tapbots have no more tokens, and Tweetbot for Mac will no longer be sold. This $20 price tag isn’t just buying one of the last Twitter apps out there, but it is also buying the lasting support from Tapbots, who will continue to update the app even after there are no more sales.
Whether or not this price tag is warranted by the final product is the real question here, and just through using the app, it is apparent just how fantastic Tweetbot really is.
The layout of the application is standard fare to users of Tweetbot’s iPad counterpart. The sidebar on the left of the window acts as as the main browsing hub, with the timeline, messages, mentions, lists and more all found here. The selected button on the column will shine in typical Tweetbot fashion, and in addition to this, a vertical line to the left of said buttons will shine if new content is to be found in any of these menus.
Navigation is extremely easy thanks to a snappy UI that displays information cleanly, and quickly.
Consistency is an important factor in Tweetbot. Right throughout the application, the same dark textures are found, which looks extremely classy, especially when compared to the native Twitter app, which by comparison, looks ugly.
This style continues into the preferences, which offers a wide range of customisation otherwise not seen in many apps. Sound, font size and date format are standard fare, but in regards to account specific settings, there is much more to be seen. URL shortening, image uploading and video uploading can all be adjusted to use third-party services, and read later functionality works perfectly with Pocket, Instapaper and more.
Tweetbot also utilises Notification Center. Mentions, favourites, messages and retweets will all show up if selected. Yet again, this is completely up to personal choice. The amount of notifications can be completely customised, and are account specific as well.
Lists have been an integral part of Tweetbot on iOS, and this trend continues to the Mac version. Different users can be sorted into categories completely controlled by the user. This makes for an experience that can be completely tailored.
Much like Tweetdeck, Tweetbot allows users to have several columns operating at once. This can be extremely useful at times, but for some people, simply seeing many columns of information can be alienating, although this feature is completely optional. While I do not have any use for it, I’m sure there are people who either prefer the multiple columns, or have found a unique use for this setup.
I have tried hard to find negative points about Tweetbot, but it is far from the easiest thing to do. The experience is so polished, so easy to use, that there aren’t any areas where it falls. My biggest complaint comes in the form of refreshing your Twitter feed. I’m just not a fan of the large ‘streaming’ bar that acts like it is never finished loading.
The expectations of Tweetbot for Mac were immensely high, considering that its iOS counterparts are judged as the best Twitter apps available. These expectations have been exceded in so many ways. Tweetbot for Mac manages to be incredibly fully featured, yet so simple. It is astonishing how good UI design can make an application so easy to use on the surface, yet have so much hidden functionality. This amount of customisability allows the experience to be tailored to each individual user, making Twitter much more enjoyable to use.
It baffles me why Twitter are imposing new rules that restrict developers such as Tapbots, when such excellent work can result in Twitter becoming more appealing to use. The $20 price tag is far from ideal, and the developers know that as well, but when a product is so well made, and so fully featured, it is hard to ignore. Tweetbot for Mac will soon be an exclusive club that only early adopters are part of, which is a pity, because software this well made should be more widely available, but in these circumstances, this is the best we’ve got. And I’m happy to be a part of the Tweetbot club.