Twitter’s history of being a bit unfriendly to developers building third-party clients hasn’t frightened off Will Bishop. The young Australian developer recently released a version of Twitter for Apple Watch called Chirp, in order to fill the void created by Twitter pulling its official app last fall. (Let’s see how long it will last, shall we?)
Bishop says he was already interested in building for Apple Watch before Chirp, having previously developed a micro version of Reddit called Nano. Afterwards, he heard from a lot of people asking for a Twitter watch app, he says.
“Seeing as so many people were disappointed when Twitter pulled their official app, it only made sense to at least try,” Bishop says of building Chirp. “A lot of people think using your watch for more than 30 seconds is ridiculous, but I figure if people want to use it, let them.”
The Apple Watch hasn’t served to become a sizable new app platform for developers, and actually saw a number of bigger names pull their dedicated Watch apps last year besides just Twitter, like Amazon, Google Maps, Instagram, Slack, TripAdvisor, eBay, and others. Instead, users tend to interact with their Watch through notifications – not by launching apps directly and tapping the tiny screen. It just doesn’t make that much sense for anything more than a quick reply, as your iPhone is likely nearby and does a better job.
But Chirp could fill the role of needing to quickly reply to Twitter notifications, like @mentions or DMs.
The app lets you interact with Twitter from the Apple Watch’s interface, including browsing your timeline, catching up on trends, viewing people’s individual profiles, and favoriting and replying to tweets, and more.
In an updated released over the weekend, the app now also adds support for reading and replying to Direct Messages and using Twitter Lists.
These features are available via Chirp’s paid tier, Chirp Pro, which is a pay-what-you-want upgrade starting at $1.99 and going up to $4.99 USD.
In addition to DMs and Lists, Chirp Pro lets you post and reply to tweets, search for users and tweets, and view more than five trends.
In other words, if you want to actually use Twitter not just view it from your wrist, you’ll want Chirp Pro.
Despite having a niche user base, attention detail has been paid here – Chirp even lets you customize the Watch app’s user interface by toggling on or off various elements like Images, the Retweet Counter, Like Counter, Retweet & Like Buttons, and Timestamps. This helps to reduce screen clutter, which is useful given the area Chirp has to work with.
Because of how Chirp is designed, Bishop said the app isn’t as impacted by the forthcoming API changes as other clients.
“The new API restrictions are mainly for the activity APIs, streaming in particular. However, the watch does not support streaming anyway, so fortunately I am not [impacted],” he said. “The only API I was affected by were the changes to the direct messaging API,” Bishop added, noting this is why Chirp didn’t have messaging right away.
Bishop says he plans to keep Chirp free, as “downloads mean more to me than money,” he says. But he hopes people who like using it will pay to unlock the expanded features.
To use Chirp, download the iOS app and add it to your Apple Watch.