I'd Tap That: comparing the merits of four Twitter apps

I have something of a problem. I collect Twitter apps--and not the obvious, freebie ones like Seesmic and Echofon (though I have tried those as well). My collection of Twitter-related apps is made up of Tweetlogix, Tweetbot, Osfoora, and the official Twitter app, plus Trickle (a boutique app that only displays your timeline without allowing you to post) and Boxcar (a notification app for the unofficial apps that do not offer push notifications). I've been on the verge of buying Icebird, too, but have so far resisted.
 
I bought most of these in a short span of time at the beginning of the year, when the official app delivered a real flaming turd known as the Quickbar, aka Trending Topics Bar, aka Dickbar. (No one liked it, and I truly hated it.) I eventually settled on Tweetbot, but since all of them have updated multiple times since February, I thought a revisit was in order.
 
The four-day Independence Day holiday weekend provided a nice opportunity; I invested one 24-hour span to each app, and tried to be cognizant of the pros and cons of each app in relation to each other. Here are my thoughts, from worst to first. NOTE: these pros and cons are relative to the way I use Twitter apps. YMMV.
 
 
Osfoora
I had really high hopes for this app; it was the first one I turned to after breaking up with the official app. Its interface is stylish, its icon is simple and non-cute--not to mention reminiscent of the old Tweetie app icon. But not long into using Osfoora, I noticed that the developer was kind of MIA, despite a blog and a Twitter account designed to receive and respond to feedback.
 
Pros: Aesthetically pleasing; full landscape support; smart(ish) gestures distinguish a single click from a hold-down when tapping individual tweets.
 
Cons: Dates are only shown in generic relative time (old tweets read as "months", not even "months ago" or "x months ago"); no symbol in profile view for protected or blocked accounts; no tappable links in timeline view; Boxcar notifications point to a blank composition window rather than the notified message; not all @-replies are shaded differently in timeline view; color preferences for menu screen are still flip-flopped after multiple updates (selecting 'Pink' results in blue icons, and vice versa); no composition from one account into another; graphics refresh in a clunky and inelegant fashion when updating list timelines, and switching from landscape to portrait mode; accessing conversations is relatively user-unfriendly; trying to view what the Twitterverse is saying about Osfoora is almost impossible thanks to the self-aggrandizing #nowplaying feature that adds an Osfoora mention in every generated post--you have to weed out the Bieber and house music tweets to get to the user conversation.
 
Verdict: Can you tell I've become quite disillusioned from Osfoora? The developer emerged from his hidey-hole to remind everyone he's a grad student and doesn't have a lot of time for the app right now; he might as well have said "delete this app now, or learn to live with disappointment." Not only will I not use this app, but I'll probably delete it. (I'll still keep it on the MacBook, and apparently this new cloud functionality will preserve my purchase indefinitely, but still.)
 
 
Twitter
The official app of Twitter used to be Tweetie. It was the first Twitter app I purchased--the first one I used, in fact. I bought Tweetie 2 when it came out, even though rebuying kind of irked me. And when Twitter acquired it and rebranded it, I thought, "You go get 'em, little guy!" Even Facebook bit Tweetie's style with pull-to-refresh (they actually copied Tweetie's code wholesale for their iPhone app); now every Twitter app employs this how-did-we-live-without-it functionality. But now…now. Well, absolute power and all that.
 
Pros: Lateral swipe for a variety of functions (RT, star, reply, profile view); useful Profile view with an intuitive layout; built-in push notification; free.
 
Cons: Lateral swipe function doesn't always work when selecting multiple actions on the same tweet (say, starring, then RTing, then replying); extremely laggy and sluggish; DMs have proven buggy in the past, resistant to deletion or marking as read (I don't know if this is still the case, as the 24-hour window provided no chance to test); truly obnoxious Top Tweet window in the Search view; fun and occasionally useful third-party integration with Overlapr and Followcost has been removed with recent updates; visually boring; the tone-deafness of developers too far removed from the users they're serving (see: Quickbar).
 
Verdict: Barely worth it, but it's free, and it's got push. If you can deal with the ways this app panders to the silliest uses of Twitter, and the occasional slogging performance, then you could certainly tolerate this app overall. This is the kind of endorsement third place earns.
 
 
Tweetlogix
When Osfoora was hit with a case of the crashsies, I switched to Tweetlogix. It was stable, offered similar functionality relative to the official app, and the developers were acutely aware of their user base and replied quickly to Twitter questions. The icon kind of stands out on your iPhone's screen, but it's okay; apparently, the old one was worse. (One GIS later, I learn that it was at the very least uninspired, but by no means horrid.)
 
Pros: Lateral swipe function similar to the official app; tappable links in timeline view; responsive developers; truly useful organization of followers/followees.
 
Cons: Thumbnails in timeline view can take up a lot of real estate (like when @gachatz live-tweeted 25 pictures from his Thai menu practice dinner at Next); usernames the same color as links in timeline view makes things kind of melt together visually; either show the username of the retweeter, or the thumbnail profile pic overlay--but not both; bubble view of tweet detail doesn't wow me, nor does the amount of space the conversation view takes up; still no ability to compose for one account while in another, though the developers say this is coming in the next update.
 
Verdict: Tweetlogix takes second place over the official app almost solely on its size. By this, I mean both that it's slimmer and sleeker than the official app, and the developers actually pay attention to what their demographic wants in a Twitter app--this is due in large part to the size of the operation, and how much it needs to keep users happy. A responsive developer will always pay off; you can do much, much worse than Tweetlogix.
 
 
Tweetbot
This is the baby of the family, having only been officially launched in the App Store in April. It's pretty slick, utilizing smart gestures as well as a multi-tap functionality that is absent in the other apps in this test, if not every other Twitter app out there. There are cool, robotic sounds that accompany various functions in the app, and the icon is charming if cutesy.
 
Pros: Swiping one way to see conversations backward in time, or the other way to see conversations forward; tappable links in-timeline; compose to one account while in another; fairly smooth Boxcar interaction; updates have provided significant improvements.
 
Cons: Seems to use up API hits faster than other apps (quick-hitting Boxcar notifications won't always show up right away in the app, and while this is true of all four apps, it seems worse with Tweetbot); very occasionally crashes; notification lights in-app sometimes don't come on when new tweets appear in timeline; landscape has been slow in implementing--still not available in timeline view; drilling into Search function is both unnecessarily laborious, and sometimes slow due to all the audio/visual foofaraw; double-tap access to hashtags/links/mentions in timeline view can be a bit haphazard when a tweet is crowded with multiple tappable phrases.
 
Verdict: The winnah! There are things I like about other apps, like Tweetlogix's Contacts-style organization of followers and followees, but Tweetbot does everything I want it to do, at least reasonably well if not excellently. My complaints are fairly picayune compared to the major failings of Osfoora and the official app.