4 iPhone Twitter Clients Battle it Out

Twitter LogoThere seems to be two must-haves for every techie these days: an iPhone/iPod touch and a Twitter account. Since this is a Mac blog, I’ll assume the iPhone and iPod touch need no introduction, but Twitter might.

Twitter is a web application that attempts to answer the question, “What are you doing?”. Basically, it’s the away message feature of IM protocols all by itself.

If that sounds like a good thing to you (and believe me, it is), I’ll wait here while you get a Twitter account. Back? Good. With that out of the way, and with your iPhone/iPod touch in hand, the last decision you face is which mobile Twitter client to use. Thankfully, I’ve done the “hard” work for you, and put 4 mobile Twitter clients (Twitter Mobile, PocketTweets, iTweet and Hahlo) through their paces. And here’s how they stack up…

1. We’ll draw first blood with Twitter Mobile.

What I Liked:

  • The interface is basic, so it loads quickly via EDGE
  • It’s the only client in the roundup that auto-refreshes after you post a tweet

What I Didn’t Like:

  • A basic interface does not mean an attractive one. In fact, the interface is downright awful
  • No icons or buddy pictures, just gobs of poorly laid-out text
  • The layout is cramped and difficult to read
  • No alternate timelines, just Home, Profile, and People You’re Following
  • Can’t mark tweets as Favorites

Twitter Mobile

Twitter Mobile may be the official client, but it needs a lot of work; you won’t catch me using it on my iPhone anytime soon.

2. The second lamb to the slaughter: PocketTweets

What I Liked:

  • The interface is stunning
  • It displays buddy icons, and text is small but readable
  • Lots of timelines (Friends, Replies, Direct Messages, Archives, Public Timeline)

What I Didn’t Like:

  • While text is mostly readable, I wish it were a bit bigger
  • Navigation toolbar is at the bottom of the page, which isn’t immediately obvious
  • Could be easier to refresh the timeline
  • No auto-refresh when posting a tweet

PocketTweets

PocketTweets is an excellent option for iPhone/iPod touch owners. It’s pretty, it’s usable, and my gripes with it are minor. There is a button that’ll take you directly to the toolbar at the bottom of the page, but I found myself wanting the toolbar hidden at the top of the page instead.

3. Our next victim: iTweet

What I Liked:

  • Attractive-enough UI: the colors aren’t my taste, though
  • Buddy icons and the biggest text of the bunch
  • Plenty of timelines (Friends, Replies, Direct Messages, Favorites, Public Timeline)

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Only shows “unread” tweets
  • Refresh button at bottom of UI, and can be a pain to get to
  • No auto-refresh when posting a tweet

iTweet

iTweet is a fine choice, but isn’t my favorite of the bunch. More than anything else, I have a hard time understanding why it only shows you the unread tweets; this is Twitter, not an RSS client. I also don’t understand why you’d include a Refresh button, but stick it at the bottom of the page with no direct way to get to it. Come on, people, usability first.

4. The final sacrifice is: Hahlo 2.0

What I Liked:

  • Excellent UI, and is quickly loaded due to its use of AJAX
  • Buddy icons, and decently sized, high-contrast, readable text
  • Only mobile client with ‘Send Direct Message’ button on individual tweets
  • Most available timelines (Home, Personal timeline, Personal w/ Friends, Friends-only, Replies, Direct Messages, Favorites, Public Timeline)

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Default landing page is a menu, not a timeline
  • Could be easier to refresh timeline
  • No auto-refresh when posting a tweet

Hahlo

Hahlo’s a tough one to beat. The interface is very up my alley: I find dark-text-on-light-background easier to read, and the text is a big enough to be readable. Also, the menu for Hahlo is exactly what I was hoping the PocketTweets toolbar would be.

Final Verdict
Steer clear of the official client unless it’s your only option; the other clients I reviewed offer far more. iTweet is a perfectly decent client, but it’s not the one I’ll be using. As far as I’m concerned, the clear winners are PocketTweets and Hahlo. Neither is without their (minor) flaws, but overall I think both offer a near-perfect tweet-on-the-go experience.

Try both and pick the one that better suits you; you can’t really go wrong with either. Which one do I use? Well, I was a PocketTweets guy in the past, but lately I find myself hanging with Hahlo. What can I say, I’m a sucker for white-and-black minimalism. Now that you’re armed with your iPhone/iPod touch and a suitable Twitter client, all that’s left for you to do is get out there and start tweeting!

May I recommend a tweet about a great MacApper article you just read? (Note: all screenshots were taken with iPhoney; iPhones do not have Aqua scrollbars)

Comments

46 Responses to “4 iPhone Twitter Clients Battle it Out”

  1. [top cellpadding,twitter-mobile]-4 iphone Twitter Clients Battle it Out - MacApper « Malnews3’s Weblog on November 19th, 2007 9:22 am

    [...] MacApper [...]

  2. iPhone and Twitter Apps battle | iPhoneBlogNews.com | iPhone Blog on November 19th, 2007 11:11 am

    [...] Read full story [...]

  3. Sean McGoldlrick on November 19th, 2007 4:10 pm

    I have to admit that I never heard of Twitter until a couple of weeks ago. Has it been around long?!

    I signed up for it today and am just getting used to it. I like the idea of being able to blog from my phone.

  4. shadownight on November 19th, 2007 5:40 pm

    Nice article, I agree with your picks.

    @Sean: I think it’s been out for about a year, but it really got popular last spring and since then it’s been growing.

  5. Bill on November 19th, 2007 8:36 pm

    Another client for your pile – http://twitter.thincloud.com/ . I’d like to see how you think it stacks up against the others.

  6. Colby Palmer on November 20th, 2007 12:35 am

    Hi, thanks for giving iTweet a try. I think you might have missed a couple features on your first go-round: the top button in the Friends timeline is a “View New/View All” toggle. iTweet is made for fast delivery over EDGE, and the “View New” feature stops downloading the timeline if you’ve seen it already. This saves a lot of time, especially by not downloading the user icons. Of course, if you’d rather you can toggle it to “View All” (see your screenshot for an example).

    The Refresh button is at the bottom because I designed the flow to go: 1) Load page. 2) Read Twitter feed (naturally this leads you to the bottom of the page). 3) Press Refresh to load new tweets. Rinse, repeat. I’m always open to new ideas though, and if others would rather use it differently I’d be happy to reconsider the UI.

    Also, iTweet does refresh your timeline when posting a new tweet. Just try it!

    Colby Palmer, developer of iTweet.net

  7. Twitter On Your iPhone / iTouch | David Bisset: Web Designer, Coder, Wordpress Guru on December 1st, 2007 12:37 pm

    [...] a twitter app built for the iPod iTouch or iPhone (SMS is involved?). Also stumbled on a review of four iPhone / iTouch Twitter Clients. Tags: iPhone, iTouch, [...]

  8. Chris Thomson on December 3rd, 2007 11:37 am

    Nice Review. I personally use Hahlo, because I like everything about it – the design, the look/feel – EVERYTHING! My 2nd favorite would have to be PocketTweets, for its design. Haven’t tried out iTweet and Mobile Twitter much though.

    -Twitter Addict.

  9. Jeff Standen on December 7th, 2007 3:44 am

    Hahlo is excellent! I hadn’t come across it yet.

    I was getting sick of m.twitter.com since I’m starting to rely pretty heavily on sending direct messages to various bots when I’m away from the PC (‘Remember The Milk’ tasks, etc.)

    @Colby I’ll give your app another look as well.

  10. Prentiss Riddle on February 10th, 2008 12:00 pm

    Twitter user here, not yet an iPhone owner, trying to get a clue.:

    Do all of these Twitter apps require using Jailbreak or equivalent to foil Apple’s prohibition on third-party apps? Cf. http://lifehacker.com/337863/how-to-install-third+party-apps-on-your-new-iphone-or-ipod-touch

    Apple says that using Jailbreak may cause your iPhone to explode at some future software update. Is that a real danger?

    Supposedly Apple will allow third-party apps when it releases an SDK later this month. Will existing apps like these have to be rewritten using the new SDK?

    Thanks!

  11. Jeff Standen on February 10th, 2008 9:01 pm

    @Prentiss Riddle

    Hey there!

    These are just web applications used through the iPhone’s Safari browser. They don’t require you to install anything or to jailbreak.

  12. Prentiss Riddle on February 11th, 2008 3:46 pm

    Thanks for the clarification, Jeff. Now I get it.

  13. links for 2008-02-29 | stuart henshall on February 29th, 2008 4:23 am

    [...] 4 iPhone Twitter Clients Battle it Out | MacApper I quickly put pockettweets on my iphone homepage. I quite like it and better than the twitter mobile client. (tags: twitter, mobile iphone hahlo) SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: “links for 2008-02-29″, url: “http://www.henshall.com/stuart/2008/02/29/links-for-2008-02-29/” }); [...]

  14. Hahlo 3 Is My iPhone Twitter Choice | TechnoSanity on April 23rd, 2008 5:11 pm

    [...] They were certainly responsive, but neither gave me the ease of use features that my favorite web based twitter client gave me. So, I went back to using Hahlo 2 on the iPhone, even after the [...]

  15. phil a on June 9th, 2008 4:23 pm

    Hey, there is a new Hahlo version out that should get rid of the negative aspects you mentioned. I even use Hahlo as a desktop application with fluid.app! I have a tutorial o my blog!
    CU
    Ph

  16. AppCraver » Twitterific, TwitterVision and Twittelator on July 25th, 2008 3:29 pm

    [...] In any case, if you are on the Twitter bandwagon, you will want to get one of the many “Twitter clients” that make it especially easy to send and recieve twitters (or “tweats” as the insiders call them) on your iPhone. With iPhone 1.0, the choices included twitter mobile (made by the parent company of twitter), twitter for iphone, pocket tweets and itweet. A good review of the merits of these websites can be found here [...]

  17. Twitterific is an excellent Twitter client for iPhone | AppCraver on August 7th, 2008 8:25 pm

    [...] In any case, if you are on the Twitter bandwagon, you will want to get one of the many “Twitter clients” that make it especially easy to send and receive twitters (or “tweets” as the insiders call them) on your iPhone. With iPhone 1.0, the choices included twitter mobile (made by the parent company of twitter), twitter for iphone, pocket tweets and itweet. A good review of the merits of these websites can be found here [...]

  18. More Twitter interfaces than there ever should have existed « complexity = start over on August 12th, 2008 4:29 am

    [...] going to pick on MacApper’s critique of Twitter’s mobile site now; their article was the first to come up on Google. They [...]

  19. Marc Marseille on October 18th, 2008 8:58 pm

    I am a reluctant twitter user..but now I am a twitter junkie. As an internet marketer, I don’t know how I lived without it. follow me on twitter…my twitter is trioman

  20. iPhone/iPod Touch Social and Photo Friendlies Sighted « Cloudy Days and Netbook Nights on December 4th, 2008 12:51 pm

    [...] MacApper has a short review of 4 clients, two of which are not in my list above, because I had never heard of them (just goes to show). Battle of the Twitter Clients.  [...]

  21. iPhone : Viimeisellä Rannalla on December 9th, 2008 11:27 am

    [...] näillä perillä ei WLAN -verkko ole mitenkään kattava ja 3G:ssäkin on toivomisen varaa. Mutta twitteröinti, blogaaminen ja facebookkaaminen tehostuvat kummasti. Bookmark and Share: [...]

  22. Stephen Ingraham on December 23rd, 2008 1:31 pm

    I added a detailed review of TwitterFon, Tweetsville, and Tweetie at http://cdnn.wordpress.com/2008/12/23/twitter-clients-faceoff/

  23. John Clayton on August 3rd, 2009 6:41 am

    Interesting article. After reading, I installed link to Hahlo. Offers a good functionality and clear appearance.

    Really enhance usage of Twiiter for me.

    Many thanks.

  24. TvvitterBug on February 8th, 2010 1:38 pm

    Nice article!

    I think the Twitter client landscape has changed in 2010. New approaches and design strategies have yielded some remarkable new Twitter clients.

    TvvitterBug 1.3 is currently in the approval process for release on the App Store this week. This release brings together the culmination of all the features, capabilities, and functionality most sought after in an iPhone/iPod Twitter App, including:

    1. All of the power you want, without the complexity you don’t.
    2. Five (TvvitterBug exclusive) user-customizable Tweet Views.
    3. Up to Five user accounts easily accessible from any view.
    4. Persistent Tweets between launchings so you can view your tweets anytime.
    5. Double-Tap Instant Update to easily and quickly refresh your tweet views on demand.
    6. Built-in Photo capabilities to add photos directly to your tweets.
    7. Built-in Translation support using any of the state-of-the-art web translation engines you choose, such as Google Translate, Yahoo Babelfish, or Promt Translator.
    8. Built-in Web Access to view tweet embedded pictures and other URLs.
    9. Editable User Profile, including setting a new Avatar picture.
    10. Support for both “Fixed” and “Editable” Retweets – you choose.
    11. Landscape support for both Views and Keyboard.
    12. Automatic Language detection and display – great when you’re surfing!
    13. The same ease-of-use and lightning fast operation as the original version.

    I think your readers would be interested in learning more about TvvitterBug from your review.

  25. Milos Wikarski on August 22nd, 2010 1:56 pm

    Check Twitran – new full featured Twitter client with translator and text to speech engine.

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  27. Bulk Guy on March 14th, 2011 2:30 pm

    The battle still rages. Years later, I am amazed at how much twitter has become a part of our landscape. I wonder if they are making money or not.

  28. Emerald11 on March 28th, 2011 2:10 pm

    What a difference an interface can make. It still boggles my mind that designers, having seen how Apple and Mac have captured significant market share with design alone, still ignore such a crucial aspect of product success.

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