Eight years since the App Store’s initial release, we’ve seen quite the influx of Twitter apps on the market. Over time, the situation settled down and the best competitors stood on top. I’ve come to find my one or two main Twitter clients, but that still hasn’t stopped me from looking for any new contenders. While there are the few Twitter apps that everyone knows, it’s refreshing to see a new take on the familiar experience.
Enter Leaf, a new Twitter client available in the App Store today that takes a few creative approaches to the experiences we have come to know and love.
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Stepping outside of normal Twitter client behaviors, Leaf shows promise as being a client that users can grow into using everyday. Developed by @iPlop and designed by @Surenix, Leaf takes artistic liberties in instilling a new Twitter timeline experience. I’ve spent the past week testing Leaf daily to see if it could replace my daily Twitter clients, and I have to say I’m impressed.
The app’s main UI provides a familiar tab bar at the bottom of the view to navigate between your main Twitter streams. Your timeline, mentions, direct messages and search are all listed below by four distinct icons.
The timeline view provides a visually distinct overview on your tweets by utilizing images from the tweets as the background to themselves. A little strange at first, I quickly grew to love this look as I felt it filled out the tweet in a way other clients couldn’t. Leaf uses a transparent gradient at the top of the image to have the tweet’s text sort of blend right down into the image. It’s an attractive way to display the image without increasing the tweet’s space substantially.
Something I do want to really touch on with Leaf is the direct messaging experience. This is somewhat a positive and negative for me because it’s something so different, that I have yet to have accustomed to it. Leaf’s DM experience is a departure from what has become considered normal thanks to Twitter’s and iOS’ Messages conversation views. Instead of seeing a list view of all the concurrent direct messages you have, each individual Twitter user’s avatar is listed above in a scrolling left-to-right view.
This means that to go from one conversation to the next, you swipe on the user’s avatar or current conversation. This felt like a weird and literally shifting experience when going between conversations. At any given moment I could be talking to multiple people in my direct messages throughout the day, so this behavior of swiping left and right to check if there is a new message felt a bit cumbersome. It even got downright annoying at times when I found myself switching between multiple people frequently within the span of a few minutes.
The direct messages view also presents something I have yet to see in a Twitter app, pull-to-refresh from the bottom of the view. To refresh the conversation you are in, you would pull up towards the top and any new messages would load in. (It’s worth noting I only had to do this about twice because Leaf’s syncing and updates are even faster than the alternative clients I have installed on my phone.) It’s definitely a creative approach to the pull-to-refresh situation inside a conversation view. The idea of scrolling to the top of a conversation, just to refresh the latest messages at the bottom just doesn’t make sense and Leaf’s solution was very welcoming.
Possibly the most welcome, and must have feature that I enjoyed from Leaf was having day and night mode support on day one. Jumping into the settings, a user can quickly enable night mode and have a much more visually appealing experience for those night time moments. A few of the other features I didn’t quite have time to discuss include multiple account support, support for Twitter lists, push notifications, timeline streaming over Wi-Fi or cellular, and awesome iOS 10 notification support. (Seriously the iOS 10 notification interface alone could warrant a whole other three paragraphs here.)
Overall, Leaf reminds me a lot of Tweetie 2, long before it eventually became the official Twitter client (and evolved to something unrecognizable). The client is clean and direct, but introduces new interactions that make the overall Twitter experience feel fresh. Seeing a well designed Twitter client like Leaf enter into the App Store is still a refreshing experience for me. I enjoy experimenting with different apps that take a normalized experience into something else. Though I do believe Leaf’s high price tag at $4.99 will be something difficult to swing by customers. With alternatives like Twitterific being available at lower prices, I’m not quite sure what currently makes Leaf competitively better than those other clients, but it’s worth the purchase if you’re curious to try something fresh.
Leaf is a new Twitter client with definite potential to grow and become something even greater, and I’m excited to see where the team takes it over the next few months.
The team behind Leaf has been gracious enough to give us five promo codes to give our readers for a first hand look. (All codes have now been redeemed.):
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Leaf is available on the App Store now at $4.99 and is compatible with iPhones running iOS 10 or higher.