It seems like whenever somebody decides to become an iOS developer, the first thing they do is come out with a new Twitter client. Twitter clients were the fart apps of 2010. As a result, most of the time when word of a new Twitter client appears in my inbox, I trash the email without even looking.
Trickle (US$0.99) is refreshingly different. It does just one thing, and it does it very well: it displays the latest tweets of people you're following in bold white Helvetica letters on a black background. That's it. You can't use the app to respond or come up with your own clever tweets; you just read 'em as they come in. Developer Caleb Thorson refers to the app as a "passive Twitter client."
For consuming tweets, Trickle is awesome. It's easy to read tweets at a glance, and if you're busy, that's a perfect way to keep up with what's happening without being tempted to blast out your own opinion. Trickle is orientation-blind and looks good in portrait or landscape on iPhone or iPad.
There are two buttons that appear on the Trickle screen that give you an outlet to retweet or favorite a tweet. See something that's witty, interesting, or useful? Tap the retweet button (r) and get back to business. Read a tweet that is the best thing you've seen in years? Tap favorite (f).
Trickle is universal, so one purchase will let you install on all of your iOS devices. You can add more than one Twitter account, which makes this an awesome reader for those of us who need to follow multiple accounts. I can see having Trickle running on my iPad while I'm working on writing TUAW posts, so I can keep up with Twitter with an occasional glance.
If you follow a lot of people on Twitter, the app displays one tweet after another with about enough delay to let even the slowest reader keep up. New tweets appear from the right side of the screen. When the Twittersphere is occupied with something else, you'll see the same tweet until a new one comes in. The app is preset to ping Twitter for new tweets every three minutes; this can be adjusted through the settings button that appears when you tap the screen.
I would like to see Trickle allow you to set and launch your default Twitter app or browser, so when the occasional tweet comes through that you just have to reply to, you can skip over to your favorite "full" Twitter app or view a link in a browser. However, that might detract from the beauty of Trickle -- just being able to read tweets.
Early on, I had some problems with Trickle freezing when I was trying to change settings, but quitting Trickle and a bunch of apps that I had running and then relaunching Trickle solved the issue. Be sure to check out the gallery and the video to see Trickle in action.