Should You Use Tweetbot on the Mac with Caution?

I and many other Mac users were hyper excited to discover that Tweetbot has an all new alpha release of their popular Twitter client for the Mac. The version for iPhone and iPad is most well-known and well-rated, bringing in 4.5 stars out of 4510 Ratings in iTunes. The new alpha release is solely for a Mac app. It will complete the Tweetbot support on all Mac platforms.

What makes a great app?

Tapbots, the developer of Tweetbot and other good apps like WeightbotCalcbot, and Convertbot, must have spent many good hours tooling Tweetbot to suit the Mac OS. It’s a cleverly converted version of the iPhone Tweetbot experience. Users that are acclimated to Tweetbot for the iPhone will know what I mean. This is very much Tweetbot. It’s very much the designers’ feel of Tweetbot for the iPhone, but its on the Mac.

The Tapbots’ blog:

Developing for the Mac is no easy task, especially a full-featured Twitter client. However, we’ve gotten to a point where while not complete, it is useable. We’ve decided to release it as a public alpha to a) motivate us to finish faster, and b) get feedback to help us build the best Mac incarnation of Tweetbot we can make. You can love it or hate it, but rest assured it will only get much much better from here.

While it’s true that Tweetbot for Mac is a fun experience for those that are experienced Mac users, I don’t think this alpha version is right for most users. For the reasons listed in the quote above, Tweetbot for Mac is in alpha. While it has been a well working app for the first day for me, Tapbots warns us not to get our hopes too high for the alpha version. Here are some reasons Tweetbot for Mac is not be good for most users:

Bugs! Lots of them.

The blog post at Tapbots makes it clear: you are downloading an early copy of Tweetbot for Mac from their site to help them improve Tweetbot for an official release later this year. You can help them improve the Mac version by getting this free version and then reporting bugs using ‘Send Feedback’ from the Help menu in your Mac’s Menu Bar. This choice will prompt your Mac’s defualt email client to open and let you write an email to Tapbots.

Missing features.

I noticed from the moment I started clicking through menus and pushing buttons in Tweetbot for the Mac. This alpha version is just about the identical twin of the iPhone and iPad version. I prefer to have a fuller Mac OS experience on my Mac. This means that Tweetbot could include features that wouldn’t work as well on iDevices. Macs are full-blown computers, after all.

The developers have promised they are working on device/platform specific enhancements; that they are aware this alpha version is heavily a copy of the iOS version and not much else. I’m glad to read that, because some independent app developers cut the umbilical cord once the apps are equals across platforms — believing Mac users don’t care to have more bang for their bucks. Well, if I spend more than $1,000 on a Mac device, the apps should be much more powerful than their counterparts on $500 iPads and $200 iPhones.

Disturbing graphics and performance issues.

Tapbots’ blog wrote that statement — not I. As a designer, I found this alpha version of Tweetbot fairly close to my own requirements. It’s not perfectly polished down to the last pixel, but it seems comfortable as a design for Mac OS of 2012. I do appreciate the developers’ efforts to refine the design and performance as much as conceivable. I am curious to see what sort of design changes might occur before the final version of Tweetbot for Mac 1.0 is released.

No support.

Mac users like customer service handled by professional perfectionists. It’s never easy to handle code and OS dilemmas once they really happen unless you’re one of the experts. I have 19 years of experience using Macs, and I still don’t know what I would do in the event of a serious bug or crash besides taking a trip to a Genius Bar. The nearest Genius Bar for me is 75 minutes away. If you think about it, using Tweetbot for Mac is probably not worth the risk of your time and effort.

Use Tweetbot for Mac anyway

Who am I kidding? Tweetbot for Mac — even in alpha — rocks.

Lesson we can take from this: the developers at Tapbots are not only perfectionists. They are also wizards that want something practically perfect in every way before they’ll call it version 1.0. I love Tapbots’ commitment to culture-altering excellence. Of course, I want to see the Tweetbot soar to greater heights, but Tweetbot for Mac is already high enough.