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Tweetbot’s new Mac client gets buzz as Twitter crackdown looms

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Tapbots, maker of the popular Tweetbot iPhone Twitter client, announced in a blog post Wednesday  that it has finished the early stages of development on a Mac version of the application, an exciting development for fans of the product. But the news arrives weeks after Twitter announced plans to restrict third-party uses of its API and encourage Twitter users to use Twitter products.

Tweetbot for iPhone launched in April 2011, and has quickly become a popular third-party Twitter app among users who appreciated the company’s eye for design and inclusion of features that didn’t exist on other Twitter mobile apps at the time.

At the time  iPhone app launched, GigaOM wrote about why the app seemed so appealing:

“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.

The app has proved popular, especially with tech enthusiasts and heavy Twitter users. John Gruber of Daring Fireball called it his favorite Twitter app, and it currently ranks 107th among paid apps in the iTunes store out of the overall total of 650,000 apps currently available in the app store.

So it’s understandable why fans are excited to see the client come to Mac (although it’s still in a very early “alpha” version), but it has arrived at an awkward time, as Twitter adjusts how it deals with third-party apps. Twitter recently announced an impending crackdown on use of the company’s API. Twitter seems to prefer that users read tweets on Twitter, especially as advertising plays a more prominent role in the company’s future.

So how does this strategy affect the release of a new third-party Twitter client?

A Twitter representative said she had no information on the company’s attitude toward Tweetbot or the release, but Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper, raised the questions Wednesday that many Twitter developers are pondering in sharing why he likes Tweetbot for Mac and why he hopes Twitter will let it continue to operate:

This might be the last new full-featured client that Twitter permits. (They may not even permit this, but I bet it’ll be fine for at least a while.) …

But when Twitter bought Tweetie from Loren Brichter, I think it’s clear now that they only cared about the iPhone client. They’ve severely neglected the Mac and iPad clients, effectively killing some of the best Twitter apps ever made. (Given their updates to the iPhone version, maybe we’re better off.) Twitter for Mac in particular is in severe disrepair, with significant bugs going unfixed for over a year and major recent features still missing, such as native photo uploads. And now that Loren no longer works at Twitter, it looks like nobody there is willing and able to keep these apps healthy.