I don’t consider myself a hardcore Twitterer (tweeter?) even though I joined the Twitter scene pretty early on. I only started actively tweeting when social networks began aggregating content among each other. Since I’m an organisational freak, that worked out well for me. I pulled in stories from my tumblelog, loved tracks from my Last.fm account and my published works from MakeUseOf. That gave my followers something to read while I’m not actively updating on Twitter.
There are several really great Twitter desktop clients. TweetDeck and Seesmic Desktop seem to be pulling ahead of everyone in the race to be the best. I’m a TweetDeck user but to be honest, I don’t really like it. The interface is too “clunky”. The only reason I stuck with it for so long was because it allowed me to add multiple accounts and display mentions, tweets and DMs simultaneously. I have to admit that it’s quite a good tool; a power tool actually, for power Tweeps.
I’ve been contemplating on switching clients but haven’t quite found the right one. As a Mac user, I noticed Echofon as soon as it stepped into the scene. As tempted as I was, I couldn’t pull myself away from TweetDeck. But as of now, I can proudly announce that I’m a loving user of Echofon and it’s family of products: Echofon for iPhone, Echofon for Firefox and Echofon for Facebook.
Find out why.
Well first of all, Echofon’s interface (as simple as it may be) is much more pleasing. Its single window, multiple-tabbed interface with the sliding drawer is really easy to use. New tweets are highlighted and notified by Growl.
Clicking on a username invokes the drawer, showing you their tweets, followers and the those following — the latter is something TweetDeck can’t do.
What I really like from Echofon is the conversation viewer. We all know how messy mentions can become. One after another, they sort of get lost; and in TweetDeck, there isn’t really a way to view the flow of a conversation. With Echofon however, it detects if you have a conversation going on between another user. It’s indicated by the speech bubble next to the tweet.
Click on it and the drawer slides out with the entire conversation you had with the other person, making it really easy to recall what’s been thrown around.
Besides that, Echofon also includes the other basic Twitter functions and features like Direct Messaging, Follow, Unfollow, Block, Posting Photos, Link Shortening, Multiple Accounts and Search.
You can search for hashtags, mentions and user profiles. It will also show you the latest trending topics on Twittersphere.
And for me, Echofon’s trump card against TweetDeck is the ability to display all of your tweets. Scroll all the way to the bottom and it will automatically load earlier tweets. Twitter Lists will be implement in the next version.
And that’s not all. Oh no. It doesn’t end here. We also have to talk about Echofon for iPhone.
The interface looks very much like an upside-down version of its desktop counterpart. The similarity doesn’t end there — the iPhone app will do everything that Echofon for Mac is capable of, except for the conversation viewer which I mentioned above.
However, Echofon for iPhone does offer a very subtle, nice touch. You realise how many tweets often contain links? Echofon will open those links in its integrated browser. This allows you to click on a link, browse and see what’s up then easily return to Echofon. I really appreciate that feature. Now, I don’t hesitate to click on a link anymore.
I have to mention that Echofon is one of the few fully-functional iPhone Twitter apps that support push notification. In its free version, push notifications are limited to those sent by other Echofon users. In the Pro version, you’ll get the notifications regardless of the means by which they were sent; making it even easier to track your mentions and DMs on the go.
Now I’m sure that you’re wondering, what happens if you use both the iPhone app and desktop client? Does that mean that you’ll notified of the tweets twice? Fortunately, no — Echofon does all the dirty work for you once the setting is enabled in Preferences. If you have already read the tweets on your iPhone, they will be synced to Echofon’s server and marked as read. When you get home and launch Echofon for Mac, there will not be any annoying notifications to nag you about the 281 tweets that you’ve received throughout the day. Again, subtle but appreciated features.
How does the free version differ from the Pro version? For one, push notification only works between Echofon clients in the free version and is ad-supported. Secondly, the Pro version will allow you to add multiple accounts, change the theme, upload your photos to Flickr, has a landscape keyboard and a couple more features. If you don’t use those features, the free version is more than capable to handle your daily tweeting needs. Seriously.
Now, let’s quickly talk about Echofon’s iPhone app for Facebook.
What’s the difference between the official Facebook app and this one? Well, this one is simpler to navigate. It’s not packed with features but it will definitely help you get around Facebook and show you the things you really need to see. Here’s an example: if someone commented on my status, the official Facebook app will inform me via a notification bar at the bottom of the screen. I have to click on that to view my notifications and click on another link to view the comment. With Echofon for Facebook, there’s a page dedicated to notifications, where you can easily view what’s happening. I click on the friend who commented on my status and voila, the conversation appears.
Additionally, Echofon for Facebook also supports push notification for Facebook messaging between Echofon clients. This adds the functionality of SMS into a social network client. (For those interested in a proper messaging app for iPhone, be sure to read my article on WhatsApp). Sadly, it is also ad-supported but that hardly affects its usability.
In conclusion, if Echofon were to pride themselves with one achievement, it would definitely be subtlety.
Echofon for Mac is available for Macs running 10.5 and higher. For Windows users, try Echofon for Firefox; a fully-fledged Twitter client that works right out of a browser. Echofon for iPhone Free is available from the iTunes App Store [iTunes link] and so is Echofon for Facebook [iTunes link]. Echofon Pro for iPhone goes for $4.99.
Here’s the fun part: we’re giving away several promotional codes for Echofon Pro for iPhone courtesy of naan studios. These codes are redeemable in the iTunes Store worldwide. If you’d like to grab one, do something to attract our attention in the comments section. Winners will be picked randomly. Make sure to fill in your email address so that we can contact you.
Which Twitter desktop client or iPhone app do you use? Will you switch over to Echofon?