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Twitterific vs Twitter and Why I'm Switching Back to Twitter

I had been a long user of the web interface of Twitter on the desktop and gave little attention to Tweetie although I had used it on the Desktop albeit briefly. I had used the original Twitterific on my original iPhone 2G many years ago and with the advent of TweetMarker functionality to the suite of Twitterific apps I shelled out the money and dived in: wanting desperately to keep all of my feeds in sync with each other as I regularly switch between my iPad, iPhone 4S and Desktop running Lion that sync is an annoying thing to deal with.

TweetMarker is a free/monthly premium service that allows applications that support it to “mark” a tweet as being the most recently read from your Twiter timeline, and/or the most recently read from your list of @mentions. Twitterifics implementation generally works however I found that syncing the mentions would never work properly - if I would read only the mentions then it would flag that most recent tweet as the most recently read and assume it was the same as for the main timeline. Interestingly it only exhibited this behaviour on the iPad/iPhone versions and not the desktop version. Fail # 1.

Another problem is that Twitter only permits the API to load 110 prior tweets in a single request. What this means is that if your TweetMarker is more than 110 tweets behind current you are presented with a button you need to tap/click to load the next 110 Tweets. Needless to say this is something that can and should be automated. Twitterific is not the only app that lacks this feature but it was a limitation I didn’t realise until I tried the app. There may be technical reasons why Twitter throttle the API requests to 110 entries per XX period of time but surely this is spaced in time such that you may request chunks every x seconds/minutes. It would be better to automate the process rather than leave it to the user even if there is a time delay in doing so. If the developer wants this to be an option you can turn on - that’s great. Currently it’s manual all the way until you reach your marker. Fail # 2.

The third issue was the connection errors. This had been becoming steadily worse over the last few weeks until the point of sheer frustration as the now familiar red error bar shows up on the bottom of the app saying “connection error” at nearly every refresh. Perhaps it was a genuine connection error? Alas no as the Twitter app (ex-Tweetie) on both the desktop and on iOS were tested on the same devices within seconds of refreshes on Twitterific and the Twitter native apps obtained the most recent tweets where Twitterific didn’t. Fail # 3.

The final straw is related to the connection errors: being unable to send a tweet from Twitterific. Several different errors would show including HTML errors, 403 error, API error when the same tweet was attempted from Twitter for Mac running in parallel on the desktop it posted fine and effectively immediately. The worst part was that there was no draft copy kept and if one cancels the error message then the tweet effectively evaporates into nothing. Fail # 4.

The connection errors and difficulty posting are very possibly not Twitterifics fault but their then their post indicates they’re blaming my slow network connection. Admittedly I’m on the other side of the world but with ping times to the Twitter servers on my ADSL 2.5Mbps connection at around 450msec worst case (usually under 360msec across 18 hops) it wasn’t too much latency between my place in Brisbane, Australia and San Francisco, USA at least. Besides, if it’s possible for Tweetie (sorry, the Twitter app) to work then why can’t Twitterific figure it out?

Another thought occurs to me: what if Twitter is prioritising it’s responses to third-party API requests? Another topic for another day. It would be interesting if that were the case. More investigation is needed there.

For now at least, I’m switching back to the native Twitter apps and will watch Twitterific updates closely and will try them again once their issues have been resolved. It’s a shame after the promise of synchronised tweets cross-platform will draw me back to them again. Maybe Twitter will buy TweetMarker and incorporate it? That would be nice.