Breaking The Core Twitter Experience

A tweet criticizing the service’s official app and praising a third-party client unexpectedly struck a chord with many other users.

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As I sat down to eat breakfast on a not-so-bright early Sunday morning, I scrolled through the tweets on the Twitter iOS app and realized I wasn’t enjoying the experience. It seemed I was seeing more tweets from people I didn’t follow than people I did follow. This was due to Twitter’s recent inclusion of replies and likes from people you follow as part of the main timeline. I was having to start muting people that I never followed in the first place, because people I did follow were liking and replying to them so much. A brief, hastily considered thought came to my mind about just ditching the service, essentially throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Then I remembered, despite some ham-fisted attempts to kill it, a few years ago, Twitter still has a third-party client community. I had actually just retired Twitterific from my phone a few days before because I had been using the official app as my go-to Twitter experience. I sat there, at my kitchen table, at five-something AM and reinstalled Twitterific. I knew immediately that this was the solution to my problems with the Twitter user experience. Because Twitterific and other third-party Twitter clients don’t have access to all of the service’s “features” through the API, they offer a clean, chronological view of the tweets in your timeline. I excitedly tapped out a couple of tweets praising the third party client, which I had used on the Mac, when I originally signed up for the service ten years ago. The second of the tweets quickly started getting a lot of attention, as Ged Maheux (one of the founders of Icon Factory, makers of Twitterfic) and others began retweeting it.

I went back to bed after breakfast and wasn’t asleep for too long before I started getting a barrage of dings from my phone. “Did you just level-up in Candy Crush or something?” my wife asked sarcastically. I checked my phone and saw that my tweet had resonated with other Twitter users, who were liking and retweeting it at a pretty rapid pace. The dings continued as I listened to a Spotify playlist while getting ready for the day, interrupting the music at regular intervals. I turned my ringer off before heading to church for Sunday worship service. As I left the house, my wife warned me against getting a big head about my increasingly popular tweet, which we were jokingly referring to as “going viral.”

While I sat in the pew during the service, singing “Lean on Me” and watching slides of our church youth repair houses during a recent Appalachia Service Project mission, my iPhone periodically vibrated with notifications. The notifications of people liking and retweeting the comment about Twitterific continued as I drove home. As I ate my lunch of leftover Indian food from our gracious dinner hosts of the night before, more notifications poured in. In addition to the likes and retweets, which eventually surpassed my number of followers, there were some clever responses.

This tweet wasn’t going to land me on Good Morning America, but clearly I’m not the only one who is frustrated with the official Twitter client.

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Robert is a Christian, aspiring minimalist, software dev manager and paper airplane mechanic located in North Carolina.

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