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Twitter on the Mac: Do your job, or get out of the way

Jason Snell | Aug. 14, 2015
Three years ago this month Twitter broke its covenant with the third-party developers who helped fuel its initial growth and create some of its most innovative features. The message was clear: Twitter was in charge of its own platform, and while other Twitter apps would be tolerated, it would only be in limited fashion and for a limited time.

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Three years ago this month Twitter broke its covenant with the third-party developers who helped fuel its initial growth and create some of its most innovative features. The message was clear: Twitter was in charge of its own platform, and while other Twitter apps would be tolerated, it would only be in limited fashion and for a limited time.

Today Twitter is a company in turmoil, with investors such as Chris Sacca clamoring for change after the exit of former CEO Dick Costolo and the interim takeover of co-founder Jack Dorsey. What can't be disputed is that Twitter's Mac app--introduced in 2011--is an extreme example of how Twitter has squandered the past few years. It drove third-party developers off of its platform in order to exert control, and then proceeded to bungle its app development.

Twitter for iOS, while it has its issues, is generally considered to be a competent app. (I don't use it--I'm still clinging to Twitterrific. And of course, so many people love Tweetbot for iPhone.) Unfortunately, Twitter has withheld most of its new innovations (such as the contents of the Notifications tab, including a list of who follows, retweets, and favorites you) from third-party apps, so even the most impressive third-party app is hobbled out of the starting gate.

On the Mac, though, it's been a disaster. I use Twitter for Mac every day because I rely on the contents of that Notifications tab, and because Tweetbot has never really appealed to me. (Unfortunately, the Mac version of Twitterrific is so old that it's essentially unusable.)

How bad is Twitter for Mac? So bad that it fails to support numerous features introduced with fanfare by Twitter itself. The new Mute feature, which lets you block out communications from people you don't want to hear from without blocking them entirely? Not only can you not initiate a mute from Twitter for Mac, but I've found that when I mute someone from Twitter's Web interface, many of their tweets still appear in my timeline.

Tweet quoting, rolled out earlier this year, is still not supported on the Mac version of Twitter. Tweetbot (Mac and iPhone) and Twitterrific (iOS) were both updated to support it almost immediately, and are the richer for it.

Then there are the bugs. Too frequently I click on a tweet in Twitter for Mac, only to have it display the contents of an entirely different Tweet in my timeline. I've seen this bug consistently for months, if not years. I also find the app will often bog down and become unusable until I quit, but then again, sometimes it just quits on its own.

 

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