Tweetbot iPhone App Makes Twitter Look Foolish

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In Twitter’s perfect world, Tweetbot wouldn’t exist.

Like Tweetdeck, Twitterific and Echofon, Tweetbot is a third-party Twitter client, giving iPhone users access to their tweets, replies, retweets and direct messages. For $2, it also happens to be really good.

Tweetbot excels at the little things, like the ability to tap a tweet for a list of drop-down options, to reply by triple-tapping, or to see an entire conversation by swiping left-to-right over a tweet. You can also view a list of retweets, a feature not available in Twitter’s own app.

So far, Tweetbot has been warmly received by tech writers. While that’s great for Twitter the service, it’s a problem for Twitter the company.

See, Twitter doesn’t like these third-party clients that closely resemble its own apps. In a message to developers last month, Ryan Sarver of Twitter’s platform team said the company doesn’t want anyone developing any more clients aimed at consumers. Tweetbot has been in development for about a year, so presumably it was allowed to live despite Twitter’s new policy.

Sarver said the policy exists to reduce confusion for users and to enforce good privacy practices, but there may be an ulterior motive: Without control over the client, Twitter will have a harder time making money. Apps like Tweetbot are free to ignore the money-making measures that Twitter introduces, such as the infamous (and now non-existent) Quickbar.

It’d be easier to accept Twitter’s stance if the company’s own apps and website were flawless. But as TweetBot proves, there’s always room for improvement.