In few other areas of Internet life do individual tastes and preferences emerge as strongly as they do with the Twitter client. While we all have our favorite browser, e-mail and RSS client, the immediacy of the social nature of Twitter seems to magnify our instant love-hate relationship with these clients. Echofon for the iPad has a lot to love.
Here’s how I feel about a Twitter client. It should have a clean, readable timeline. The text should be crisp and readable: black on a white background. White on black looks cool, but it’s hard to read. There should be a visual cue in the timeline where you updated last, icons should be clear and intuitive, Twitter features should be nicely integrated, like lists and twitpics, and the chosen timeline or DMs or Mentions should make good use of the screen real estate.
Echofon Pro 3.1, for iPhone, iPod touch and updated to be native for the iPad, released June 15, does all that and more. (This review is focused on the iPad experience.) It meets my 3 L’s criteria: Layout, Listing and Likeability. (Or Lickability if you prefer.) The iPad landscape layout reveals the display options on the left. Clicking on the tweeter’s icon reveals information about that user: a profile.
Clicking in the text brings up options: Reply, Favorite, Retweet, Copy or Delete in the grey-bar style of iOS Cut/Copy/Paste. That’s a terrific feature. Clicking on a URL brings up a good looking browser with lots of options.
When photos are referenced, say, with twitpic, a thumbnail is displayed on the right side of the tweet. Click on it to bring up the photo in a popover. The name of the user’s Twitter client is always shown, which I like. (One always wants to know the favorites of the people followed.)
Photo thumbnail and popover
In portrait mode, like iPad’s mail, the sidebar disappears revealing a clean, informative timeline that fills the screen. A thin black line separates each tweet and a darker, bolder line delineates the last update. Beautiful.
Also, in portrait mode, one clicks on the user name on the upper left to reveal the sidebar. Click the accounts button to bring up the list of accounts you use. Hidden there, to my regret, is the settings.
I would prefer the settings be placed in a more prominent, place, but I suppose once you know where to look, it’s okay. Also, I would prefer to have the option to display the time of the tweet in absolute day, hour, min, sec like Syrinx for the Mac as well as the relative time. These are nits.
Out of the box, Echofon is practically perfect. It’s intelligently designed, almost as if the developers had all consumed a magic elixir that made them think like superb iPad designers. There are treats at every turn (like being able to “tune in” to threads between people you follow), a sane way to see users followed and users following (with search) and a sensible, comprehensible tweet composition window. But the composer isn’t overloaded with features so you can get down to business without being distracted.
So far, I haven’t been able to figure out how to invoke shortened URLs, and there’s nothing in the settings to select a service. I’ll update when I learn more.
Echofon Pro may not be as feature complete, almost kitchen sink overloaded like Twittelator Pro for the iPad, but for lightweight users like myself, it’s practically perfect. A clean, drop dead gorgeous Twitter client is a thing to behold, and this is it.
Echofon Pro for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, version 3.1, released June 15, requires iOS 3.0 or later. It’s priced at US$4.99 and worth every penny, even if it’s a secondary Twitter client to a current favorite.