Tweetbot is slowly rolling out to App Stores around the world as we speak. It’s a new Twitter client from Tapbots, the makers of gorgeous and intuitive iOS apps like Weightbot, Pastebot and Calcbot (notice the theme?), and if you’re wondering whether really need any new Twitter clients, Tweetbot provides a very good answer.
Tweetbot has been a long time coming (which explains why it isn’t affected by Twitter’s new policy disparaging third-party clients), having originally been announced on April 12, 2010, at which point it had already been in development for two and a half months. Tapbots does not have a very fast development turnaround time, but there’s good reason for that: the studio remains incredibly small, despite its successes. In fact, it still only consists of the two co-founders / developers, Mark Jardine and Paul Haddad, who quit their day jobs to run Tapbots full-time in 2009. In an email interview, Jardine noted that he thinks this is the ideal setup, because it’s allowed the company to remain self-funded, it allows scheduling to remain very flexible, and because the partners “only have to worry about two families to feed.” Obviously, this ultra-lean approach comes with a considerable downside, too, though Jardine thinks even that may represent a net strength for Tapbots:
The downside is that we release less apps. But it’s also a good thing as it keeps our customers wanting more. If we released 4-5 apps a year, they wouldn’t feel as special.
“Special” is the perfect word to describe the apps Tapbots puts out. Few developers operating in the App Store pay as close attention to detail, or offer such a refined user experience. You get the sense when using any Tapbots app that every sound, every gradient, and every interface element placement decision was the product of many hours of careful consideration. Tweetbot is no exception to this rule, with a number of new features that are unique to the app, including a customizable home interface, the ability to quickly change between lists, and user-defined functions for triple-taps.
Still, there’s no denying that Twitter has been trying to corner the market on iOS users by acquiring one of the leading Twitter clients (Tweetie) and making it official, and free. I asked Jardine whether or not he thought there’s room for new blood in the space following that aggressive move. “People are always looking for something different,” Jardine said. “Personally I’ve been a big fan of Tweetie (now Twitter) and I think Twitter made the perfect choice for their native client,” he added, “but there’s still plenty of room to try new things.”
Jardine feels that what Tweetbot offers is “unique enough to be a great alternative to what’s already out there,” and based on my early impressions, I’d say he makes a good point. And as to those who still say the market doesn’t need another Twitter client, Jardine says that the Tapbots team “likes challenges” and is eager to “prove them wrong.”
Tweetbots is the culmination of a considerable amount of work, but there’s still more planned beyond the 1.0 release, which should go live in the U.S. App Store within the next 12 hours. Jardine says there are still many things planned for the app that didn’t make the cut for this release, but that will arrive in later updates. As for the next big thing to come from Tapbots, Jardine said they haven’t yet decided on any fixed future plans. Whatever it is, you can bet it will take a long time to arrive, and provide a carefully constructed and meticulously polished user experience when it does.