The unfortunate news came that Tweetbot would be forced to cease development and support due to Twitter’s recent changes to suspend access to third party clients. This may be sad news to a lot of people, however with the over 10 years of hard work this knowledge and experience can be used for future development. I never used Tweetbot before, but I definately read a lot about the app throughout the years. So with this sad news comes some exciting news from Tapbots, the developer team behind Tweetbot to create a new social media client called Ivory for Mastodon. Early access to the new iOS app for iPhone and iPad is now available, and I thought I would check out what all the toots are all about.
Testing was done using the following…
- iPad Pro 10.5”
- iOS v16.3
- Ivory v1.4.1
I installed the application using the App Store by searching for “ivory for mastodon”. Upon initial load of the application I was presented with a lovely elephant that appears to be the mascot of the software. Next I entered my instance server name, “fosstodon.org”. Afterwards I had to authorize access to my Mastodon account. All this went pretty smoothly. Now I was presented with the option to demo the app or purchase a subscription. Apparently I will not be charged a fee if I choose to cancel the subscription within 7 days. This part, I’m not a fan of. I should be able to test out the application using most of the base features so that I can make a decision without making a commitment. I realize this seems to be the norm nowadays especially on an Apple device, but I’m strongly against this approach to get money from people. Anyway, I moved on by choosing to go with “I Just Want to Demo”.
Unfortunately at this point I experienced an iCloud Sync Issue. I found the issue online on the Ivory support page. Turns out iCloud Drive is required along with app permission for iCloud access. I have no interest in using iCloud, so this is why I have it disabled. I would really like to know what exactly the app is using iCloud for as I’ve not been able to find any explanation. As far as I can tell, the app doesn’t have to have access to iCloud in order to function properly.
At the initial look and feel the Mastodon client is quite smooth and elegant to use. Everything that I need is available to me quickly and easily using the vertical bar with icons. On the home view one can choose to select Home, Local, Federated, or a predefined user list. The top right has a split view icon that adds having mentions listed as you browse. Go down the vertical navigation, you have mentions, profile, notifications, search, favorites, bookmarks, lists, filters, and statistics.
One of the coolest features I’ve found is the statistics. Though it is not a necessary feature it is a cool to see your overall activity, favorites, boots, replies, mentions, posts, and follows all in a nice looking graph. As far I can tell these stats are for the recent week. May be over time this will grow to show more, at this stage I’m not sure.
There doesn’t seem to be much left out that I can think of that cannot be changed under the settings. Everything from having multiple accounts to changing the display, behaviour, notifications, sounds, browser, and app icon is available. I like the fact that one has the choice to change the default built-in web browser to the user’s desired web browser of choice. Interesting to see so many options on changing the app icon with even a Tweetbot rest-in-peace icon for some nostalgia.
A few things I noticed that doesn’t seem to be supported yet.
- Profile doesn’t render emojis
- Profile doesn’t have a media tab
One of the reasons why I wanted to check out this app was due to how wonderful the developers seem to respect a user’s privacy. It has been taken serious enough that the App Store reports that the developer does not collect any data from this app along with the website explaining this further. It all seems fair and reasonable. I praise the Tapbots for doing this and wish more would come on board.
For me this is the disappointing part. I’m a strong advocate of software being developed using free open source licenses, and now seeing this how beautiful everything else has been done it saddens me that a close source license has been chosen. As a user I have no way to verify or have the community verify exact what is going on in the background. Providing transparency is key as far as I’m concerned and in return having an open source license allows for the community to grow and learn if one chooses to do so.
Saying all this though I do respect the developers choice, and wish them all the best in this adventure.
It is unfortunate that I was not able to dive deeper into the review due to being stuck in demo mode. It frustrates that this was the approach the developers took or maybe strongly encouraged due Apple forcing this decision. Overall the application looks and feels great with an intuitive interface. The polished feel definitely shows that a lot of thought and effort has gone into the development of this application.
Ultimately for me the there are two reasons as to why I would not choose to use this application. First is the payment options available, lock a customer in using a subscription of monthly or yearly bases. Which really means I have to pay for it indefinitely to use it. Though the subscription cost is quite reasonable, but not for endless years. Give the freedom of choice with the option of having one time payment even if that means for a certain period of time. The second issue is not being developed using an open source license with the source code available.
Either way it is good to see another Mastodon client available, and I’m sure it will be a good choice for those that choose it. Give it a try and see what you think.
- Ivory app icon, resized for fair use
- Ivory for iOS Support
- Ivory for iOS
- Ivory for Mastodon by Tapbots on the Apple App Store
- Update Ivory version
- Remove missing feature, alt text