I’m growing rather tired of loads of complaints on Twitter… about Twitter. Redesigns, changes to the chronological listing of tweets, pictures appearing in-stream by default are common complaints I keep on reading. This has prompted analysis, and even odd browser-based work arounds.

Why is all of this so annoying? Because the solution is both simple and right. Use a third-party Twitter client to access Twitter, and the problems go away (for now at least – more about that below).

What do I mean by a third-party Twitter client? Essentially a software utility to access Twitter that is not run or developed by Twitter itself. This means that the utility is designed to give you, the user, control over what you see, and not let Twitter Twitter’s advertisers determine that for you. Twitter’s own apps, and Tweetdeck, are no good as these are run by Twitter.

You need to sign up for an account with Twitter, which itself has now become more complicated – you need to use the mobile signup to avoid having to download an app – and then use the login details in a third-party app.

So what are your options?

On Mac: I absolutely swear by Tweetbot. Buy it. It may cost £13.99 but it’s worth it. Multiple column views, no ads, elegant interface, stable, list management, super mute filters (don’t like XFactor or the Daily Mail – gone!), and sync with its iOS counterparts. Alternatives are Osfoora, Janetter, Hibari and Echofon.

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On Windows: Here it’s a little more complicated, but try Yoono or MetroTwit. It seems that both Echofon and Janetter have problems on PCs at the moment.

On Linux: Yoono, Choqok, Birdie or Polly.

On iOS: Tweetbot, Übersocial, Tweetlogix, or Janetter.

On Android: Übersocial or Janetter.

On Blackberry: Übersocial.

There is also the web-based Hootsuite, although I have always found its interface too clunky for personal use. The list above is also not exhaustive – do suggest additions, amendments in the comments.

So what’s the problem with this?

Twitter became big in the first place because the platform was great in two interlinked ways – users felt they were in control of what they saw, rather that Twitter controlling that (on Facebook it has always felt like EdgeRank controls you), and the dozens of software utilities that sprung up around Twitter meant everyone could find something that suited them.

But that sort of network is not easy to monetise, as it is relatively simple to avoid advertising. This explains Twitter’s quest to restrict third party apps, and force its users (and especially new users) to use its own apps. So while you may be able to use Tweetbot or Janetter now, there is no guarantee that this will persist for ever more.

So download your third party app now. Persuade as many of your friends as possible to do the same. And then the user base of these apps will be considerable enough to make sure Twitter cannot close them.


  1. Menno Bart

    Hey Jon, fully agree with people commenting on the official Twitter app, but must say I haven’t seen any problems with the Chrome tweetdeck app. No adds, I see everything I want to see, it’s fine. On Android it’s more complicated. I started using Janetter, which isfine for readingand following different timelines, but what I don’t like is composing tweets with it. For example, it doesn’t suggest twitter handles. Since I don’t know everybody’s use of underscores, hyphens etc, I find myself going back and forth between apps to look up the right name. Oh, and while composing you can’t use the janetter search function, because saving a draft means you’ll never be able to find it back, at least not on mobile…

  2. A cross-platform browser variant with many many options I love is Dabr, which being open source ahs a few variants available (I use the version a friend has installed on his server out of choice). I use it on my phone, and on my desktop browser, the display options in settings make it possible to customise colour scheme and display preferences for a variety of devices.

    I can’t use white-background websites for too much time at once, they can cause me headaches that are close to migraine intensity, so the new Twitter is basically of no use to me at all, but like you say, use a client or app and you’re good to go—I personally prefer Dabr’s Kris Purple scheme, but then I’m an aging goth so I would.

    I’ve tried the Twitter Android client, and a few others, and dislike them, I’m a bit of an old curmudgeon and wonder why people are obsessed with phone apps that mimic web functionality when you can just use a phone browser, but then I was using Opera Mini back on my old tiny screened Sony Ericcson brick way before “apps” became common.

    Dabr’s good, occasional downtime but you can say that about all websites, especially Twitter itself.

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