Big Stone Phone
Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.Requires iOS 5.0 or later.
Age Rating: 12+
If you tweet, you probably already own a decent iPhone Twitter client. But there’s always that nagging feeling as you tap and swipe your way through oodles of 140-character missives: Is there a better Twitter app you could be using instead?
That nagging sensation drove me to give Twittelator Neue a try. The app lost a point just seconds after I first launched it; it doesn’t use your Settings app-stored Twitter credentials, instead prompting you to log in via the Twitter website. That’s a one-time annoyance, but seemingly an unnecessary one.
Once you’re looking at your Twitter timeline, however, Twittelator starts to shine. It presents a pleasant looking view of your Twitter stream, with some wholly unique design choices. When tweets contain links to images, for example, Twittelator inserts small gaps into the timeline that let you peek through to the linked image as you scroll. That’s a cute feature, but also an odd one; you obviously need to tap into the image to see more than a sliver’s worth of it.
Such trend-bucking stylistic choices are ubiquitous throughout Twittelator. In-app banner style alerts actually push down the app’s header for a moment, before scrolling out of view. The app’s tab bar appears to float on the bottom of the screen, rather than getting pinned to it. You can even scroll the tab bar out of view, at which point it’s replaced by a faux-Notification Center handle at the bottom of the screen.
Speaking of Notification Center, however, don’t expect to see Twittelator Neue appear therein unless you’re willing to pony up an extra $2 per year for the app’s subscription-based notification service. I understand the logic – maintaining the resources to trigger such notifications costs money – but with many Twitter apps (Twitter, Tweetbot) and free services like Boxcar offering such notifications without an annual fee, I find Twittelator’s approach a bit surprising.
Navigating tweets in Twittelator can get annoying on occasion. To see a tweet’s conversation thread, you must either tap on a tweet to view its individual tweet screen and then pull down to get Twittelator to load the conversation or tap and hold on the tweet until a pop-over menu appears with a button to tap to get to the conversation view. It’s not a terrible implementation, but it takes longer than getting to the corresponding view in apps like Twitter, Tweetbot and Twitterrific.
Composing tweets in Twittelator works well. The app lets you issue native retweets or hand-craft retweets with comments. It includes support for the Eddy award-winning Tweet Marker service and also integrates with various services for deferred reading (Instapaper, Read It Later, OmniFocus). Further still, Twittelator offers the option to cross-post your status updates to Facebook, WordPress blogs and Posterous.
You can swipe left and right between the app’s modes without ever needing the tab bar; a swipe across your timeline takes you to your direct messages in one direction and your mentions in the other. That approach makes quick work of navigating between sections.
Twittelator Neue isn’t developer Big Stone Phone’s only Twitter client. The company also sells Twittelator Pro, which offers a more traditional interface and more power-user features. Among those power features are integration with services like TwitLonger, TweetShrink, Favstar, FollowCost and plenty more; custom themes; options to tweet your currently playing song; integrated web and geographic searches and plenty more. Stone doesn’t say so, but it appears that Twittelator Neue was born once the company realised it had thrown every possible feature it could think of into Twittelator Pro, resulting only in a perfectly bland app. The newer Neue, on the other hand, keeps things fairly simple and focuses on aesthetics and experience. It’s the better app of Big Stone Phone’s offerings.
Put simply, Twittelator Neue is a darn good Twitter client. Other smartphone platforms would go crazy for an app with Twittelator’s polish. The problem with Twittelator isn’t a problem with Twittelator: It’s that the App Store boasts an overload of brilliantly-crafted Twitter apps. If Tweetbot isn’t for you or the constant changes to the official Twitter app rub you the wrong way, Twittelator is definitely worth a look. And if you want notifications, save the extra couple bucks and grab Boxcar instead.