Tapbots released a new version of Tweetbot today. It looks a little nicer, the bird in the icon now looks stoned, and there are a handful of enhancements. But the big news is that most of the app is locked behind a subscription: if you want to use multiple accounts, filter your timeline, use push notifications, or send a tweet, you’ll have to pay up.
Each new major version of Tweetbot from its first release was a paid upgrade until Tweetbot 5 in 2018. That was a free update from the previous version, released in 2015 for ten dollars in the U.S. after launch pricing expired, or about two dollars per year. At six dollars per year, is the new version worth the price jump and paying for it annually?
I have no issue with subscriptions conceptually, but they rightly carry the expectation that in return for regular payments, users will receive meaningful, periodic updates. Recognizing this, many developers time the move to a subscription with a substantial app update to start off on the right foot, which Tapbots hasn’t done. Tweetbot’s subscription is primarily based on the promise of future updates. […]
Tapbots’ ability to update Tweetbot is, alas, limited by how fast Twitter builds out its new more developer-friendly API. For example, while you can now view polls in Tweetbot, you cannot vote in them; it will prompt you to open the poll in the Twitter app if you try. You cannot view who liked a tweet or retweeted a post with a comment. You cannot search tweets from more than the last seven days. All of these limitations are on Twitter’s end and have nothing to do with Tweetbot specifically.
That is perhaps the hardest sell for Tweetbot. Your subscription fee is paying for Tapbots to translate Twitter’s API into a really nice app experience, but whatever work they can do is limited by what Twitter makes available to them. Over the last few years, Tweetbot updates have been as modest as Twitter’s API adjustments, and it is unclear how fast Twitter will roll out changes to its new API.
For what it is worth, I love the Tweetbot experience so much that I bought an annual subscription. But I wonder if, three years from now — after spending the Canadian pricing of $21 — I will feel like it is a good ongoing investment rather than an annual cost.