I recently reviewed and loved Carbon for Android, but shortly after that, it was struck by Twitter’s API limit issue. And so when a friend asked for a good-looking Twitter client for Android, I set about looking through other options. There’s no shortage of these on Android and I even checked out some of the lesser-known Twitter apps on the Play Store. But I believe I’ve found a balance between looks and functionality with Talon.
What’s It Like?
Fire up Talon and you’ll see your timeline in a clean grey-and-black theme (you can change this to light and dark themes), with the profile pic of the sender on the left and the tweet in a speech bubble. You can swipe right to see the Mentions and Direct Messages columns, and swipe in from right to the centre to see all interactions—a feature that several non-desktop Twitter apps miss out on. But a nice surprise awaits you when you swipe left from the timeline, as you get a list of all the tweets that shared images or all those that shared links on your timeline. There are third-party apps like Tweever which do this, but it’s nice to have it baked in. It’s a lovely feature and one I find myself using more and more.
Much like most good Twitter apps, you get in-line image and video support. Image-browsing is an especially good experience on Talon, as the photos are “overlayed”. What this means is that you can pinch-to-zoom and drag, letting you check out the image in more detail. And there’s a handy Save button too.
The top-right of the screen holds the Compose and Search buttons, while hitting Menu lets you send a direct message or go to the Settings. Swipe in from the left and you get Talon’s menu, which includes the current account you’re logged into (you can sign into multiple Twitter profiles and switch between them), and shortcuts for timeline, mentions, direct messages, trending topics, lists, favourite users, retweets and favourite tweets.
Talon auto-refreshes the timeline and issues a little toast notification, which tells you how many new tweets are there to be read and a one-tap button to go to the top.
The biggest triumph of Talon, for me, was how little it made me leave the app. The in-app browser of Talon is a little floating window and this does it all. If you tap on a tweet, this floating window pops up, showing you the tweet and giving you space to reply to it. Swipe right and you’ll see the Conversation view. Swipe left and you’ll be taken to the in-app browser, which will automatically open the link in that tweet. Tap the tweet again and you get a menu for all the clickable elements in those 140 characters.
And you aren’t restricted to this floating pop-up either. Long-press a tweet and it will expand to give you options to favourite it, retweet it or start composing a reply immediately. It doesn’t take you to a different screen or even issue a pop-up—this was a big deal for me because it makes Twitter feel faster than ever before.
Long-press is also needed to access a person’s profile without the floating pop-up, and you’ll need it because that’s where you get options to follow/un-follow, mute, add to lists, etc.
Even when you do step away from the app, what I liked was the Talon Pull feature in my notifications pane, which informed me how many new tweets are waiting for me to check out. And it’s only in your notifications pane, it doesn’t clutter your status bar.
No Love For Hashtags
Talon is wonderful to use in most aspects except when hashtags are involved. Indeed, it’s almost like the developers don’t like this Twitter phenomenon that has been copied by everyone else now.
There is no option to mute hashtags, which is a big miss, in my opinion. If a Twitter contest is on, I don’t want to unfollow the users who are participating but I might just want to filter out that hashtag and all its related content. Unfortunately, there’s no option for that.
And similarly, when you’re composing a tweet, Talon has options to add other usernames with an “@”, but no recognition for hashtags you have previously used or trending topics (even though it lists those in its menu). It’s frustrating to compose your tweet and then have to look up the timeline again to find the right hashtag.
Is Talon For You?
At $1.99, Talon is a bit steep. I wouldn’t recommend this as an app for casual Twitter users, but if you are someone who follows a lot of people and wants a stable but fast experience on Android, then the investment is worth it. The ability to see all those shared links and images in their own timelines is enough to make me use it more.
Also, the Talon Pull notification made me check Twitter less often than I would. When I saw that there weren’t many new messages from when I last checked, I just didn’t bother. It’s a small psychological thing, but I guess when you know that there aren’t many messages waiting for you, you’re less likely to check them.
For advanced users who want support for hashtags, Talon is a failure. But if that one missing feature is not something you care about or are willing to overlook it, then this app is well worth the money. Grab it before it too gets hit by Twitter’s API limit and you are forced to look elsewhere!
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