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Echofon Pro 3.0

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My very first Twitter client on my iPod Touch, before I even owned an iPhone, was Twitterfon, and it was the winner in my first show-down review of iPhone Twitter clients. That is way back in the day when Twitterfon was only available in a free version, and was clearly the best of the clients available for free. There were a lot of things I liked about Twitterfon, but it was soon overtaken in the features race by Tweetie, then Twitalator Pro and finally by SimplyTweet, which combined the simplicity of Tweetie with the feature set of Twitalator for what I consider to be the best tweeting experience on the iPhone.

Twitterfon Pro (in the next show-down review) was a valiant effort to regain ground. In the meantime, legal issues forced a name change: from Twitterfon to Echofon. The independent developer, working for the fun of it in his spare time, became a business with hopes of making a profit, and Echofon for the Mac and Echofon Pro for the iPhone were born.

I bought Twitterfon Pro, as you can see from the review sited above.  Echofon has one really great feature. Since the Twitterfon days, Echofon is one of the few (if not the only) Twitter client to offer active links right in the list views…user names and @s, hashtags and urls are all highlighted and live. Touch one and it opens the appropriate view directly, without opening the tweet in tweet view. This makes so much sense that I have always wondered why all the clients don’t do it that way.

I keep my copy of Twitterfon/Echofon Pro updated and install it after each update to see how it is developing. A version or so ago Echofon became only the 4th iPhone Twitter client to offer fully integrated global push. Most of the top selling Twitter apps rely on Boxcar for Push, and, as good as Boxcar is, it does not offer the functionality of true native push. Twitbit, TwitBird, and SimplyTweet all do push right (though you pay extra for it, as an in-app purchase, in TwitBird). Echofon joined that crew as soon as they offered global push, and they even offer a user adjustable sleep timeout for pushes (which not all of the others do).

Beyond that, I am happy to report that with version 3.0, Echofon has achieved a rich enough set of features so that, when combined with one of the better UIs going,  I would consider it as a alternative to SimplyTweet as my primary Twitter client. In fact it is doing that duty right now, while I wait for the next SimplyTweet update.

For one thing, Echofon is fast. It caches past tweets so it comes up with list views populated, and it only downloads the past 200 tweets or so (and provides a count). While I like SimplyTweet’s down load all since last view policy…because I like, for some bizarre reason, to know how many tweets I am not reading…it does slow ST down on launch…and I have come to realize I will never read most of those 6 hour old tweets anyway. 200 (which with my 900 tweeple is between an hour and two hours depending on the time of day) is enough. Especially if means the Echofon is up and running fast.

In other features, Echofon Pro 3.0 maintains live links in the list views, along with instant reply (just tap the avatar). It adds support for Twitter’s native lists and geotagging. The list interface is particularly robust. Anything you can do with a Twitter list, you can do from Echofon, quickly and easily.

Echofon Pro also has a feature I have not seen before anywhere: there is a search box at the top of every list view, and it allows you to search your own timeline, mentions, or DMs for whatever text occurs to you (see the screen shot above left). I was not sure how valuable it was until I actually needed to find a tweet I remembered reading and wanted to look at again. There is some power in that search box!

Echofon also has both Twitter native retweet and old-style RT (which still allows for commenting RTs). Then there is full Profile editing; conversation view of replies and DMs; thumb-nail of images in tweet view, easy user look-up in Composition view; search by username, name, or company (which I believe is actually a feature unique to Echofon); and Nearby search with map.

Unfortunately the Map nearby search is somewhat awkwardly implemented. The initial search area is way too small, at least here in semi-rural ME, and it seems to take a long time to find tweets. So far I have had to move the map off center to get it find any tweets at all. You can pinch zoom the map down to cover a larger area, but it only finds tweets on the current section of displayed map…and list view only shows those tweets already found in map view. Other clients that feature a nearby search seem to pull down a list really fast, and those that feature a map view (TwitBird for instance) have a selectable search radius, and seem to be much faster (plus the TwitBird map search graphics, with a sweeping radar effect, are just way cool!). Nearby search is not a feature I use, so for me it is not a deal-breaker…but your usage and needs may differ.

What Echofon does not do…

  • provide landscape in all views (it only has it in Compose)
  • display real name with tweets (come on guys, this one is so easy…either display both as SimplyTweet does, or make it user selectable as several others do)
  • have TextExpander support (I use this, like all the time (latt), in SimplyTweet)
  • provide an easy way to quote or repost a tweet (totally possible with copy and paste, of course, but Tweetie’s quote and SimplyTweet’s repost one touch actions have me spoiled).

Echofon Pro 3.0, with global push and a unique mix of features, including the latest Twitter native lists and geotagging, has got to be a strong contender for the best Twitter client on the iPhone, and the one Twitter client you will use everyday.

Visit Echofon for more information, or purchase on the App Store at EchofonPro. (iTunes link).

More screen shots, pretty much self explanatory.



Written by singraham

January 9, 2010 at 6:25 am