Now that we’ve told you why everyone needs Twitter in their lives, here’s one more piece of unsolicited advice: don’t use the official Twitter app. If you’re on an iPhone or an iPad, there are much better options.
The official Twitter app is pretty good, but it lacks some important features which make it a pain to use. You can’t mute keywords or hashtags to remove annoying content from your timeline. It also refuses to auto-expand Instagram pictures. And searching for the right tweet on the mobile app is a joke at best.
Third-party Twitter apps can solve these problems and introduce other features that makes Twitter truly worthwhile.
Tweetbot 3 ($4.99, iPhone-only)
Best for: Replacing the Twitter app on your iPhone.
Yeah, $5 for an app sounds like a lot, but if you are a Twitter power user or looking to become one — this is the app to get. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: Tweetbot is the best mobile Twitter experience.
The app’s gorgeous design is just one of its many wonderful features. It supports swipe-based gestures to reduce the number of taps you’ll need, has shortcuts for five columns instead of the usual three, lets you save drafts for the future, and comes with a mute filter that you can share with others. Plus, it plays nice with third-party apps like Pocket, which the official Twitter app unplugged recently.
Tweetbot also puts a premium on images. Each image can be opened in a gorgeous lightbox, and you can even sort your entire timeline by tweets with images or videos only.
Twitterrific (Free, iPhone & iPad)
Best for: Replacing the Twitter app on your iPad.
Unfortunately, Tweetbot 3 never got an iPad version. While the developers promise that Tweetbot 4 will come with iPad support, you probably don’t want to wait that long. Thankfully, Twitterrific reduces your wait for a great tablet Twitter app. And it’s free, if you don’t mind a few adverts (though you can pay $2.99 to remove these).
Twitterrific looks perfectly at home on an iPad running iOS 7 or above, whether it’s the smaller Mini or the larger Air. Much like Tweetbot, Twitterrific looks good, works without a fuss, and offers features simply not found in the official app.
For example, instead of silencing and filtering annoying tweets by making them disappear, Twitterrific uses “muffles”. It’s the same thing as muting, but it basically appears as a small line in your timeline saying a tweet with a keyword you noted has been muted. In case you want to see that tweet this one time, tap it to view it.
Twitterrific also has a “Today” mode for users who choose to upgrade, which I love and personally think makes it better than Tweetbot. The “Today” view shows activity on your timeline today, such as retweets and favorites of your tweets, new followers, and so on. It’s like the “Interactions” column of Twitter — something which only the official Twitter app has and no third-party app is allowed access to.
Top tip: If you don’t want to spend five bucks for Tweetbot, download Twitterrific for free and try it out. Once you see how good it is, you might want to spend $3 for its pro version. If Twitterrific isn’t your thing, we also have another five great apps for the iPad that you might want to check out.
Buffer (Free, iPhone & iPad)
Best for: Scheduling tweets for later.
Not every tweet needs to be sent right away. In fact, if you want to get your tweets read, it’s best to space them out and send them at optimal times. How do you find out when your tweet is most likely to have an impact? Buffer does it automatically, and also lets you manually schedule tweets for later.
You can connect multiple Twitter accounts, pick a URL shortening service of your choice, and Buffer will do the rest. When you want to send a tweet right away, choose the “Share Now” option, otherwise use the default “Share/Buffer” button.
Buffer also provides analytics for each tweet, which you can check to figure out how many people replied to it, how many favorited it, and how many clicked on it.
The “Awesome Plan” pro version lets you schedule up to 200 tweets at a time, connect RSS feeds, and add two team members. The default free version is good enough for most users though, so you probably won’t need this unless you’re into social media marketing.
TweetLibs (Free, iPhone & iPad)
Best for: Searching Twitter.
Even though Apple bought Topsy, the best tool to search Twitter since its beginning, it still doesn’t have an iOS app. But thanks to TweetLibs, you will never feel its absence.
TweetLibs has several fields to narrow down your search so that you can find tweets relevant to you. It’s more powerful than Twitter’s own advanced search, and more importantly, you can even save your searches so that you can go back to them whenever you want to.
The search parameters include: keywords to include and exclude, users, location, positive or negative attitude, asking and not asking a question, including or excluding retweets, and tweets with links, media and news. You can then sort your results chronologically or by popularity.
You can also interact with the tweets in your results. Options include retweets, favorites, replies, or viewing/following the user.
NC ($1.99, iPhone & iPad)
Best for: Its excellent Notification Center widget.
Widgets used to be one of the best reasons to choose Android over iPhone, that was until last year. Apple introduced widgets in Notification Center with iOS 8, and NC is simply the best widget for Twitter.
Since it’s a widget that sits on your “Today” screen, you’re able to view tweets no matter which app you are in simply by swiping down on the screen to reveal Notification Center. The widget shows either the last five tweets from your timeline, or the last five mentions you received.
The really cool part is that you can actually interact with them directly from the Notification Center. You can retweet, favorite or dismiss the tweet — to reply to a tweet, tap on it and it’ll open in your favorite Twitter app.
However, NC and every other Twitter widget we tried does not let you compose and send a tweet directly from the Notification Center. There isn’t a single third-party widget that does this well. If you find one or build one, we’d love to hear about it in the comments and update this article!
There were plenty of other great Twitter tools for iPhone which didn’t make the cut, for some reason or the other. I can’t list them all here, but I’ll shortlist those that came closest.
A robust Twitter client, it is packed with features and free but ad-supported. Unfortunately, you can only mute users, not keywords or hashtags. And the design is underwhelming. Still, no harm in using this one.
This iOS 8 widget came close because it apparently lets you compose tweets directly from the Notification Center. However, I just couldn’t get my Twitter account connected to it. If any reader has better luck, let us know in the comments!
Make Twitter less overwhelming with Eddy, which displays one tweet at a time in a minimalist interface. It’s a nice way of repurposing your old iPad into a Twitter display device. Check out our full review of Eddy for more details.
Twitter vs. The Rest
Personally, I often end up going back to my Twitter app for the Interactions feed, which is increasingly more important now that several of my Twitter friends started using “Favorite” as an acknowledgement of having read a tweet.
What about you? Do you use the original Twitter app instead of any third-party app? Why?
Image credits: FirmBee / Pixabay