I have mentioned in the past that the first Twitter client with push notifications was going to steal the market, but I guess I was wrong.
The problem is that there isn’t a single Twitter client for the iPhone that uses push notifications for tweets, only mentions and direct messages. And, although this is a very nice feature, I really just want a push notification every 15 minutes or so, but only if I have unread tweets, this still doesn’t exist.
Here are the current options:
iTwitter ($2.99): Unless I’m mistaken I believe that iTwitter was actually the first dedicated Twitter client that supported push notifications. As I mentioned above though, it only features push notifications for mentions and direct messages, and only if the person mentioning or direct messaging you is also using iTwitter.
Twitbit ($4.99): Twitbit also supports mentions and direct messages over push notifications but for this application it supports it from anyone, whether they are using Twitbit or not. Currently the push option is all or nothing though, if you want it on you get both mentions and direct messages. For me this isn’t a problem but for some users who happen to get a lot of mentions during the day it could get a little annoying. Although the ability to turn one on and not the other could be added in a future update it currently isn’t a perfect solution.
Boxcar ($1.99): Probably the best solution in the bunch for most users. It isn’t a full featured Twitter client, instead it just sits on your iPhone and pushes you your mentions, but instead of opening Boxcar to deal with them it opens up either Tweetie or Twitterrific (your choice). This way you can get push notifications without having to leave your favorite Twitter client. It’s also very possible that in the future Boxcar will also support other Twitter clients (like Birdfeed). The only downside I can find with this application is that it does open up it’s own interface for direct messages, but for someone like me who doesn’t get a lot of direct messages it is perfect.
Update 7/17/09: A couple additions to my list:
iTweetReply ($1.99): Another Twitter client that supports push notifications, very similar to Twitbit, but cheaper. It doesn’t seem to offer all of the features iPhone users have come to expect in Twitter clients. As it is mentioned in the app descritpion: “please note that though this App does provide some basic twitter features it is not a full client.” I’m not exactly sure what features are missing because this single sentence was enough to keep me from paying the $1.99 for it.
Tweet Push ($0.99): Works just like Boxcar but has support for Twitterrific, Tweetie, Twittelator, and TwitterFon. The downside (or upside depending on how you look at it) is that this app only works so long as you have credits for it. The initial purchase comes with one month of service but to continue using it after the first month you will have to buy more credits using in-app purchases. This is a bit of a hassle but will certainly make sure that the developer continues to make enough money to support the push features. The big upside to this application is that it not only supports mentions and direct messages but also supports updates of your timeline as well.
I have been playing around with Boxcar today, I haven’t had enough time with it to recommend it but so far I’m very happy with how well it works.
Update 7/23/09: I quit using Boxcar with Tweetie and am now just using it for the notifications and then manually opening Birdfeed to read the mention. Also, Jonathan George on Twitter says that Birdfeed will be supported in version 1.2.
Update 8/8/09: The latest update of Boxcar has added support for Twittelator, Twitterfon Lite, Twitterfon Pro, and Twinkle.