We reported late last month that Tweetbot for Mac, a desktop version of the popular third-party iOS Twitter client, would likely come soon after the company’s graphic designer, Mark Jardine, tweeted an image of the client running on a MacBook. Today, Tweetbot developers decided to make things official with the release of a public alpha, and we recently got a chance to play around with it. (Blog post here.)

The Tweetbot alpha, which at this point runs on 10.7+ and 10.8 Mountain Lion, has a lot going for it despite warnings of “Bugs! Lots of them.” According to Tapbots, the main goal of the alpha was to replicate the core functionality of the iOS client. Like tapping a tweet in the iPad app, hovering over a tweet in the Mac client provides you with the same Reply, Retweet, Favorite, Share, and Actions button to get access to details, conversations, retweets, and etc.

In addition, like the iPad app, you will find a button to quickly switch lists in the upper right, while a Lists button on the left sidebar will let you manage and edit your lists within the app. The app also bakes in the familiar “Mute Filters” for your main timeline. However, only the ability to mute “Clients” appears to be an option now—with the option for muting keywords greyed out. You will also get Twitter, bit.ly, CloudApp, and Droplr URL shortening options, and all the same image and video-uploading options as on iOS, including: CloudApp, Droplr, img.ly, Lockerz, Mobypicture, Pikchur, Posterous, Twitgoo, TwitPic/TwitVid, and yfrog. Syncing options only feature Tweet Marker currently (iCloud coming soon), while all the Read Later services are present such as bitly, Instapaper, Pinboard, Pocket, and Readability.

We have had a lot to say about the Twitter experience on the new Retina MacBook Pros. The official Twitter for Mac app is unfortunately not Retina-ready and almost unusable on the new Retina displays. Fortunately, we have a Retina update to Twitterific to tie us over, but the Alpha Tweetbot release today is also built for the new Retina display. We have no complaints. It looks great, but Tapbots said further improvements are coming…

Tweetbot for Mac vs Twitter for Mac

As for how the app feels to use, we did not run into any major bugs in our tests. The small settings cog in the bottom right corner is not working, but it will likely give quick access to manage accounts and access settings like sounds, display, and navigation—similar to the iPad app (those options, and the ability to add multiple accounts, are accessible from within the Preferences menu). You can also quickly switch between accounts by clicking your profile image on the left sidebar. We noticed gestures are supported with one-finger or two-finger swipes (depending on your mouse/trackpad preferences), allowing you to quickly jump to Conversation or Details view for any tweet. The app looks and feels like the official Twitter for Mac client at first glance, but, when compared side-by-side (as pictured above), the Tweetbot client’s UI makes Twitter for Mac feel dated.

Again, like the Tweetbot iPad app, clicking through a tweet in your timeline will take you to a full-page view of the tweet with the ability to view replies by scrolling up (pictured in gallery, above). We did not run into many issues with responsiveness, but the scroll-to-refresh felt a little wonky at times compared to the official Twitter client. Despite being an alpha build, it feels almost good enough to ditch Twitter for Mac. Expect things not to work sometimes, though.

After hours of the app running nearly perfect, we started getting the red notification seen in one screenshot in the image gallery. The notification reads, “Twitter limits the number of requests you can make in an hour. Please wait 49 more minutes and try again.” This is not something we have experienced with Twitter clients, but it is likely an alpha issue. A re-launch or two of the app seemed to fix the issue.

You will be able to pop open a new window with command-shift-n, but Tapbots promised a “much more elegant” multiple windows mode in the future. At this point, there is also no iCloud or Notification Center support, as those features can only be implemented after the app is signed and approved for the Mac App Store. Tapbots promised both features for the final App Store release. The public alpha build is available on Tapbots website, but the devs will not offer any support during the alpha period. Eventually, it will be a paid app when it lands in the Mac App Store. There is no timeframe for a release date at this point.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s