We are no strangers to Twitter clients for Android. In the past we’ve reviewed both Plume and Boid, and if you look at our list of Best Android Apps you will also find Twicca, TweetDeck, and more. But the landscape of Twitter clients is ever-evolving, with ambitious developers always trying to pull the next great thing. And sometimes, it works.
Sometimes, they end up with a beautiful, slick client like Falcon Pro for Android. This $1 utility has made quite a splash with its Google Play debut, and has already garnered over 3,300 reviews with an impressive 4.7-star average. Let me show you around what might be your new Twitter client for 2013.
Viewing The River of Tweets
Twitter is, first and foremost, an endless river of updates. Being able to quickly scroll through your tweets is the key feature of any Twitter client, and it’s not as simple as it sounds. The client must make it very clear whose tweet you’re reading, whether or not it’s a retweet (and by whom), and show inline content elegantly. Above you can see how Falcon Pro handles links to images: Inline, right within the stream of tweets, so there’s nothing to tap. If you do want to get a closer look at an image, you can always tap it for a full-screen view.
Text-only tweets look sharp, too:
Note the flat, simple aesthetic, the lack of rounded corners (a good thing, in my book) and the interesting use of bevels (individual tweets appear to stick out of the screen, while the byline of each tweet is “sunk” into it).
Reading Links With the Built-In Browser
When you tap a tweet with a link, here’s what happens:
A built-in browser opens, with the tweet still at the top of the screen for context. There are easy buttons for replying, retweeting, starring the tweet, and sharing it (to read later, perhaps). But start scrolling down to read the article, and all of the distractions go away:
The top line remains visible so you know whose tweet you’re reading about, but the rest of the screen has just the good stuff. Combined with a solid mobile website (like Ars Technica’s, above), this makes for a seamless, pleasant reading experience.
Left and Right Side Menus
This is something Falcon Pro touts at the very top of its feature list, enthusing about “Double Sliding Menu UI like you’ve never seen before” (a quote from their Google Play app description). Well, guess what? I have seen it before – if you’ve ever used Dolphin Browser you’ll recognize this specific UI pattern immediately. Still, I’m calling Falcon Pro out on the hype, not on the usefulness of the design.
The left and right sliding menus offer a useful way to navigate the app, and feel better than the traditional Android pattern of a bottom menu with tiny buttons. The menu has lots of vertical space, so it’s nice and airy, with thin and light typography to match. Above is the left-side menu, allowing for quick navigation and custom searches. Swipe in from the other side, and you’ll get…
Lists, Saved Searches, & Trends
Megan Fox isn’t dead, by the way, in case you were wondering (it’s a Twitter hoax). Tap a hashtag or a list, and get a river of tweets on that topic:
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be about Justin Bieber.
Falcon Pro has a generous Settings menu, subdivided into four categories. I personally don’t use notifications (they’re incredibly distracting), and the Sync and Notifications submenu let me disable them right away. The Layout submenu lets you toggle inline media preview, text size, and the date format. The nebulously-named “User experience” menu contains a hodgepodge of settings that didn’t seem to fit under any other category:
One thing you won’t find in the Settings menu is a way to make the theme light. Falcon Pro is strictly dark, at least for now. I personally don’t mind that too much, since I’m prone to reading tweets at night.
One Drawback: An Odd Business Model
Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed the large Extras button two screenshots up (in the Settings menu). Tap that, and you’re taken to a Google Play page trying to get you to buy something called Falcon for Twitter (Donate). That’s both odd and random, because Falcon Pro for Android is a paid app – it already cost you $1, so why pay more now? To add to the confusion, Falcon for Twitter (Donate) has a different icon. It’s basically “a way to show your support”: You get a bunch of Falcon wallpapers, and a way to tweet right out of the Android notification tray.
What’s odd here is that you have a paid app that’s selling a paid bundle which costs more than the app – it’s the first time I’ve seen something like this. I’ve seen free apps with paid ad-free versions, paid apps with free add-ons, and free apps with paid add-ons (like the excellent SwipePad which I reviewed back in 2011 and still use). Still, if the model works, it works.
Fit and Finish
Falcon Pro doesn’t get everything right. The settings menu capitalization is inconsistent (“Sync and Notifications” followed by “User experience”); there’s no light theme; the business model is a bit confusing. That said, it gets the important stuff right. In daily use, Falcon Pro is fluid and responsive, stays out of the way, and lets me get my tweets just the way I like them. It earned its spot on our Best Android Apps page.