I'm not thrilled about Twinkle's reliance on a Tapulous server as a mediator between your iPhone and Twitter. Yes, that approach lets Twinkle include some clever non-Twitter features such as location-based services, but only for other Twinkle users. When Twitter is down, you'll still be able to send Tweets--but they won't go to Twitter until it comes back up. Likewise, if Twitter is up and the Twinkle server goes down, you could be cut off from the rest of the Twitterverse. And I found it a little disconcerting that Tapulous's TwinkleKing account, who I don't follow on Twitter, was able to send me spam about Twinkle-related contests and the like. You can't block those TwinkleKing messages.
Twittelator: Stone Design's Twittelator
Stone Design's Twittelator is in many ways the polar opposite of Twitterrific. Twitterrific's interface is terrific for reading your friends' timeline and posting tweets, but it doesn't let you dive deep into the features of Twitter. Twittelator, in contrast, has a much less refined interface, but supports every Twitter feature imaginable.
From Twittelator, you can view your friends timeline, your own timeline, your replies, your direct messages, the timelines of other users, the friends of the people you follow, you name it. You can search for text on all of Twitter. If you tap on a friend's icon, you immediately see all their Twitter stats.
If Twitterrific could improve by adding a bit more functionality, Twittelator could benefit from a dramatic tightening of its interface. I found the layout of its main tweet list a bit strange, with numerous small items that were difficult to tap on, and tweet text isn't as readable as I'd like. Yet it's actually the least dense of the three programs, forcing you to scroll more.
Twittelator's most bizarre feature is its "Emergency icon," which according to Stone Design lets you "create a Tweet with a map of your current location." The latest update to the software allows you to hide the button, which is a good thing. Twitter's great and all, but if you're in trouble, sending an automated tweet about it via a button that's easily pushed by mistake doesn't seem like it should be high up on your list of options.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Twitterrific is currently the class of the Twitter client apps on the iPhone, but it's got stiff competition close behind. What Twitterrific lacks in features, it more than makes up for by getting the interface and most important parts of Twitter--reading and posting tweets--right.
Twinkle is a lot of fun and quite innovative, showing how location information adds to the richness of Twitter. If only Twitter supported location information in a useful, native way--I'm not thrilled about Twinkle's use of an intermediary server, nor the inability to block unpleasant people who might be near you. Its interface could also use a bit of toning down, at least as an option.
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