Falcon for Android review: Falcon packs Twitter into a home screen widget

4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Falcon puts all of Twitter's basic functions on your Android home screen. Tweets with rich content can be expanded into a pop-out window.

The Bad No multiple user support. Only compatible with Android 3.0 and higher.

The Bottom Line If you want to do your tweeting from your home screen, download Falcon, as it is, hands down, the most robust Twitter widget we've seen.

Free

8.5 Overall
  • Installation and Setup 10.0
  • Features and Support 8.0
  • Interface 8.0
  • Performance 9.0

Falcon is not your typical Twitter client. Rather, it is a widget designed to run completely on your home screen. While other Twitter widgets provide only a snippet of your timeline and essentially a shortcut to a full-functioning Android app, Falcon adds the Twitter functionality directly to your home screen so you don't have to boot anything else up.

To get started with Falcon, first add it to your home screen, just like you would any other widget. It's resizable, so you can experiment with both portrait and landscape orientations. Next, sign in and synchronize your tweets with the widget. Finally, tap the Falcon logo on the widget to choose a default Twitter app (if you have one installed). Your default app will then launch any time you tap the Falcon logo. Essentially, this creates a shortcut to a full Twitter app, in case you need to do things like edit your profile or add videos to your tweets -- things that Falcon itself cannot do.

That said, Falcon does have all of Twitter's basic functions built in, which is more than I can say for any other Twitter widget I've seen. It offers a resizable stream that can be toggled between your Twitter timeline and your mentions. There's a refresh button and a jump-to-top command (single tap on the toolbar). And of course, you can compose tweets -- complete with photos and location tags -- right from the widget. If you want to mention another user in your tweet, it helps that Falcon autocompletes based on users you're following.

As you read through your stream, you can tap any tweet to expand it into a pop-out window. And what's nice is that any rich content -- links, images, and videos -- will show up as a preview in the window as well. The pop-out even shows you replies from other users, and lets you compose your own replies, retweet, favorite, or reshare to other apps. This is, by far, the most functionality I've seen in any Twitter widget. Overall, it's perfect for quickly consuming content without having to boot up a full-blown Twitter client, browser, or any other app.

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Any rich content, including links, shows up as previews in a nifty pop-out window. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

From Falcon's menu bar, you can access your lists, trends, and keyword or hash tag searches. The menu also leads to a ton of settings so you can customize your Falcon experience. For instance, you can change the widget's refresh rate (to conserve the battery) and notification settings, and tell it how to handle unread content. There are also display settings for theme, text size, text color, and widget layout (list versus grid). Falcon is incredibly impressive with its number of customization options.

What the widget doesn't give you, though, are some of Twitter's more advanced features like saved searches or list management. Also, I would love to see Falcon able to handle multiple accounts. Having separate home screen widgets for different Twitter accounts would add yet another level of convenience. Finally, it's worth noting that Falcon is compatible only with devices running Android version 3.0 and higher, which will likely cut a large number of users out of its market.

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