Twitter apps for iPhone

Twitter is a fun service that lets you keep in touch with your friends and other people you only wish you knew. Like many people, I’ve come to rely on it as a backchannel that keeps me in touch with my colleagues and friends in ways that email and instant messaging simply can’t. And since the iPhone was first released, I’ve used Web interfaces to Twitter to read and post Twitter items, known as “tweets,” when I’m on the go.

With the release of the App Store, there are now several native Twitter clients for the iPhone. All of these programs show immense promise as well as numerous warts.

(If you haven’t updated your iPhone to version 2.0 - or don’t want to download a lot of iPhone apps and risk stability problems - don’t fear. Hahlo remains an excellent, full-featured Twitter client that works right within Safari.

Twinkle for iPhone

Tapulous’ Twinkle is a strong competitor to Twiterrific, but its colourful interface (bright yellow, blue, and grey word balloons on a dark starscape background) is distracting and harder to read than Twitterrific’s.

Twinkle’s best trait is its location awareness. When you post to Twinkle, other Twinkle users can see what city you’re tweeting from. And a tap on the Nearby button lets you see tweets from Twinkle users near you, which is pretty cool. However, I wish I could opt to view tweets only from nearby users I follow, and there's no way to block nearby users whose tweets you might find distasteful. (Tapulous says such a method will be available in a forthcoming update.)

Because Twinkle’s location-savvy functionality works via a proxy server run by Tapulous, only Twinkle users can appear in the Nearby list, and only other Twinkle users can see what city you’re tweeting from.

I'm not thrilled about Twinkle's reliance on a Tapulous server as a mediator between your iPhone and Twitter. Yes, that approach lets Twinkle include some clever non-Twitter features such as location-based services, but only for other Twinkle users.

When Twitter is down, you’ll still be able to send Tweets - but they won’t go to Twitter until it comes back up. Likewise, if Twitter is up and the Twinkle server goes down, you could be cut off from the rest of the Twitterverse.

And I found it a little disconcerting that Tapulous’s TwinkleKing account, who I don’t follow on Twitter, was able to send me spam about Twinkle-related contests and the like. You can’t block those TwinkleKing messages.


Twinkle is a lot of fun and quite innovative, showing how location information adds to the richness of Twitter. If only Twitter supported location information in a useful, native way - I’m not thrilled about Twinkle’s use of an intermediary server, nor the inability to block unpleasant people who might be near you. Its interface could also use a bit of toning down, at least as an option.