Review: TwitterFon Pro
Tee Morris. Twitter. For many of my friends, the two go together like Bacon & Eggs, Baseball & Hot Dogs, and Princess Leia & Brass-Accented Bikinis. I love Twitter, so much in fact that I’ve penned two books on the Social Networking site. (And before anyone makes the joke, yes, they are both written in more than 140-characters.) In my books and in my “professional” Twitter feed, I review many of the third-party applications; and when it came to the iPhone, my passions for both smartphone and Social Networking got so nutty that Chapter 8 of All a Twitter focused exclusively on tweeting from the iPhone, my favorite app reviewed here.
When I heard Naan Studio released TwitterFon Pro ($4.99USD, offered alongside the free original), I was thrilled. Whenever asked “What apps do you recommend for the iPhone?” I heartily endorse TwitterFon as the best free app out there. I’ve always wondered, though, what a “better, stronger, faster” version of it would be. With the release of TwitterFon Pro, I found my excitement and anticipation levels rise over this new spin on an old favorite.
Going Pro Has Its Advantages
At its homepage, you get a side-by-side breakdown on exactly what you are getting when stepping up to the Pro level. Definitely the most fun is the Shake option, something that once upon a time I could only do with Urbanspoon. I can now gather up new tweets by giving my iPhone a quick shake. Sure, it’s a goofy little perk but I love it.
There is no surprise that if you want Landscape Orientation you need to go pro with TwitterFon. If you want the extra room and assured accuracy of what you want to tweet, it can be yours for a few dollars more.
And when you are a Power Twitter and want the ability to float to and from various accounts, be it for work or for personal use, you get with TwitterFon Pro the ability to tap from one account to another. Tap the ID at the top of the screen and the tweets slide away to reveal your other accounts, complete with the numbers and its avatar. Tap the one you want to track and the window slides away to reveal your desired account. A really cool touch of the Multiple Account feature is that the preferences you set are not global but fit each account individually. So if you want a specific theme for each account, you can have that. Very slick.
TwitterFon Pro continues one of the things I loved about the original by color-coding various kinds of tweets. In the screen captures from my TeeMonster account, I’m using the theme called “Black” because I’m “Back in black — I hit the sack…I've been too long, I'm glad to be back...” (And for those of you head-banging with me, thank you!) You’ll note that newly arrived tweets (including the ones you send) are given a different shade, and Mentions appear in a nice emerald green. Direct Messages do not appear, but you know when they arrive as the icons along the bottom of the interface are tagged with alerts that give you how many tweets await you. These various alerts and distinctions make it visually easy to catch your new tweets, tweets directed to you, and messages too important to let slide by.
TwitterFon Pro’s strongest attribute is how it keeps you connected without disconnecting from Twitter. Unlike other mobile Twitter apps that quit in order to show you a full image or website, TwitterFon Pro keeps you in Twitter while showing you the featured media, even providing a convenient shortcut back to your feed. Particularly for images, TwitterFon not only shows you the photo but also gives you, across the bottom of the screen, the tweet that brought you to it. That is ingenious!
It is also impressive what integrates with TwitterFon Pro. Along with Read It Later, TwitVid, and YouTube (also available for the free version), Pro offers integration with Ping.fm, Instapaper, and Flickr. I have yet to work with a Twitter client, desktop or iPhone, that works with Flickr and I really have to tip my hat to TwitterFon in adding this feature. The tweet you give the photo becomes its title, and TwitterFon tags the image for you. Very, very nice! Being a Flickr member and a shutterbug, both with my iPhone and my Rebel XTi, this is a real bonus. I sincerely hope other apps take note and bring this feature on board their own.
I think I said this once before about TwitterFon, but I am amazed at the small details that are missing from its snappy, solid, feature-rich interface. For one thing, auto-scrolling. In many applications, tapping the top of the screen or a title bar twice is a nice shortcut to automatically scroll to the top of tweets. I have tried double tapping everywhere but there seems to be no feature like this on TwitterFon Pro. Therefore I have to scroll to the top of the list manually, whether it is 10 or 110 tweets since the last time I used it. On that note, I have no preference to tell TwitterFon to fetch only the last twenty or so tweets. If I do get new tweets, I can tap on a menu icon to scroll up to the most recent one in that particular list, but there is no shortcut that I can find that will take me to the top.
Equally quirky is how limiting and sometimes pesky the UI can be. For example, when I am in the main feed, I can compose an open tweet by tapping on the Compose Tweet button in the top right corner. However, when I am in my Mentions, that option is swapped out with a shortcut to…My Twitter Profile? Hopping over to Messages, that feature is replaced once again by the Compose Tweet option. The same with Favorites. I don’t quite understand the logic there. Equally confusing is how you receive Direct Messages. When they come in, the original message is marked with a number, signifying how many responses you have to the original. Perhaps this does serve as an effective way of tracking the conversation on a whole but I rather have that be an option as opposed to the only option.
Speaking of notification, that is a problem with TwitterFon when tweets arrive: There is no audible notification. That is really something that needs to be rectified, and rectified soon. I like to know when new tweets come in, whether it is a simple beep, a signal from my iPhone’s library of ringtones, or the collection of bird calls that Twittelator Pro comes installed with. I’m not watching my iPhone all the time, so an aural nudge would be nice.
I cannot help but compare TwitterFon Pro to Twittelator Pro, and while the Flickr integration, its ability to keep you in Twitter while you surf sites and images, and its great visual cues are fantastic, I find myself returning to Twittelator on account of TwitterFon's collection of small setbacks. It doesn’t make it a bad app, by any stretch; but for the same price Twittelator Pro is the better investment, although I cannot deny the Flickr integration is real bonus. I would dare say Twittelator Pro needs to keep an eye over their shoulder. TwitterFon is in need of improvement, but it has closed the gap dramatically.
If Naan remedies these little trip-up’s, I might find myself with a new favorite for the Bird House.