Tapbots’ Ivory app helped me love Mastodon and ditch Twitter

Ever since Elon Musk took ownership of Twitter, it’s been one chaotic new thing after another. You literally cannot go a day (or a few days or even a week) without some stupid new change to the site — whether it’s about checkmarks for verified or Twitter Blue subscriber accounts, how links to other social networks are banned and then reversed, view counts on Tweets, or something else. I can’t keep up with every little thing that has happened since the beginning of November, and it feels like the spotlight is always on the toxicity of the site in general.

New Twitter alternatives have been popping up recently, but it seems that the most popular one continues to be Mastodon. I originally made a Mastodon account back in 2018 when it first launched, but it never clicked with me back then, and I eventually went back to Twitter. With the Musk mess, I tried going back to Mastodon, but again, it didn’t really click with me — until Tweetbot developer, Tapbots, revealed its next project: Ivory.

The significance of Tapbots and Tweetbot

Profile displayed on Tweetbot
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I’ve been on Twitter for over 15 years — my account says I signed up in April 2007. Twitter has been a big part of my life in general, from helping me meet cool, like-minded people, to professionals who have helped me get where I am in my career. Honestly, I don’t think I would be where I am today if it weren’t for Twitter.

In 2008, there was a little app called Tweetie made by Loren Brichter of atebits, which was one of the best third-party Twitter apps on the iPhone at the time. Tweetie is one of the biggest reasons why we even have “pull to refresh” on iOS, as it appeared in that app first and was a game-changer. However, in 2010, Tweetie was acquired by Twitter and turned into the official app, but I hated the changes that were made.

In 2011, Tapbots came out with Tweetbot on the iPhone (the iPad and Mac versions came later). Tweetbot was dubbed “a Twitter client with personality,” because it emulated a friendly robot like the other apps from Tapbots. In 2012, the Mac version of Tweebot came out, and iCloud timeline sync was implemented in both the iPhone and Mac versions, so you would never lose your place. In 2015, Tweetbot 4.0 added iPad support. Over time, Tweetbot included great features like multiple account switching, inline viewing of images and YouTube videos, and (my personal favorite feature) muting users and topics in the timeline for a set amount of time — or even permanently.

Phil Nickinson's empty Twitter feed.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

I’ve been using Tweetbot ever since it came out in 2011, and I also purchased the Mac version when it launched as well. As time went on, I disliked the native Twitter website and app more and more due to the algorithms and ads, and Tweetbot gave me a chronological timeline with zero ads — a great Twitter experience, in my opinion. I also loved the design and interface, as the navigational swipe gestures just felt natural to me and the mute filters let me get rid of Tweets I didn’t care to see in my timeline (major sporting events, for example).

Even as Twitter got worse with algorithmic changes and more ads, I still enjoyed being there because of Tweetbot. Unfortunately, Twitter crippled its third-party developer API many years ago, so some of the newer features, like polls, would never be supported in third-party apps like Tweetbot. Those were the times when I would need to open up the Twitter app or go to the website, but once I did that, I would immediately go back.

Even so, Tweetbot continued to be the reason that I tolerated Twitter. For me, Tweetbot was Twitter.

Ivory is exactly what Mastodon needed

Ivory app profile display
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

As I tried to make myself use Mastodon over Twitter, I was wishing for a Tweetbot version of Mastodon. Since Tweetbot was how I interacted with and tolerated Twitter for years, and how I was trying to use Mastodon to replace Twitter, I just needed a Tweetbot for Mastodon. Lo and behold, my wish came true: the developers of Tapbots created a new app called Ivory, which is currently only on the iPhone and in alpha through Testflight.

I got in on the alpha, and it has been game-changing. Just as Tweetbot became my home for Twitter, Ivory has become my home for Mastodon. Ivory has the same design and interface as Tweetbot, so all of the interactions, gestures, and functionalities are like second nature for me. Swiping right to like, further right to reply, swiping left to view a conversation thread, and even the search and trends — it’s all just like how I used Twitter.

Timeline view in Ivory
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

But Ivory goes beyond what Tweetbot offered because Mastodon is part of the decentralized web (the “fediverse”) and not centralized like Twitter. Because of this, the developers of Ivory are not limited to silly API restrictions, thus allowing Ivory to do things like polls and view account statistics.

Ivory is still only in an alpha state, so it’s missing a lot of features. But the developers are active on Mastodon and are listening to user feedback, as well as polling users for what they should work on next. The most surprising part, though, is how polished Ivory feels already. Personally, it feels like the current version of Tweetbot that I had been using, and have paid money for. I can’t wait to see how Ivory will be when it finally hits the App Store after a beta stage, because I know I’ll buy it (or subscribe) the minute I can.

If you are on Mastodon and want one of the best iOS app experiences yet, I’d recommend keeping an eye out for open alpha slots for the Ivory Testflight. Make sure to follow the Tapbots Ivory account, as well as the developers themselves, Mark Jardine and Paul Haddad. These alpha slots go very fast (and for good reason!), so you really need to be on top of it to get in.

I’m finally ready to ditch Twitter

Ivory app profile in Ivory
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Ever since I got on the Ivory alpha on my iPhone 14 Pro, I’ve been enjoying Mastodon so much more. I think the reason I didn’t like Mastodon before was that I didn’t really care for the web interface or the apps that I tried, including the official Mastodon app. But since using Ivory, I’ve been checking Mastodon frequently throughout the day (it also helps that it has since become more active with users, so there are a lot of posts). Plus, I think joining a smaller server that’s tailored to your interests also helps (I found a Disney-themed server that lets me add cool Disney emoji to my name.)

In fact, I check Mastodon more than I do Twitter these days, and the only reason I occasionally pop on Twitter is to see what my friends who haven’t moved over have been up to. I’ve stopped going through my main timeline, and I don’t really post there anymore. My tolerance for Twitter will also only last a few minutes, after which I feel icky and hop right back on Ivory to see what I missed.

I never thought I could actually give up Twitter, but Ivory is helping me make that leap.

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