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We've been hearing about it for quite some time, but Carbon for Android is finally here. While it is clear that Falcon Pro is currently tops on many people's lists of Android Twitter clients, this newly released app is definitely hot on its heels. With its attractive interface, silky-smooth performance, and nifty animations, Carbon is a downright sexy Twitter client that is worth a look. Did I mention there are no ads, and it's free?
Visually, the app is stunning. It has a high-contrast light-on-dark interface that looks slick and is easy to read. Also, compared with Falcon Pro, Carbon has significantly fewer lines and borders separating each tweet, which gives it a more open feel. Avatars clearly mark each tweet, but they're not obtrusive, and inline media thumbnails are large, just as we like them. You can tap on any tweet to open options like add to favorites, reply, or retweet. Conveniently, the app lets you pick between Twitter's native retweet or the "RT-style" retweet, in case you want to add your own text.
As is common with many other Twitter clients, Carbon's interface is broken up into three different panels for your Timeline, Mentions, and Direct Messages. Swiping left and right moves you among them. Navigating is simple with the thin bar of shortcuts that always sits at the bottom of the screen. From this bar, you can compose a tweet, see your Twitter profile, or open up another thin menu of tools along the right side of the screen. This extra side menu houses pretty much everything else you need from your Twitter client: Favorites, Lists, Trends, Search, Filters, and Settings. Everything is laid out intuitively, and there are a handful of animated details (like 3D transitions between panels) that make Carbon's controls feel significantly more polished than others'. Other nifty details include the two-finger swipe to jump to the top of your timeline and the ability to edit your Twitter profile (a rarity among mobile clients).
With Carbon, firing off tweets is simple, thanks to the ever-present Compose button sitting at the bottom left of the screen. You can easily attach photos to your tweets, but unfortunately, there's no geotagging option. What I love about the Compose interface is the autocomplete function. This makes it easy to mention other users, and it's a feature that Falcon Pro sorely lacks.
My biggest knock against Carbon is its 15-minute refresh interval. As of now, the app has this rate set in stone, which could push many power users elsewhere. By comparison, Falcon Pro can be set to refresh as frequently as every 2 minutes. Another issue I have is Carbon's lack of an internal browser and in-app previews. With more than half of my tweets containing links, I would love to be able to get previews of pages without having to exit the app. Also, tablet support, landscape mode, and a home screen widget would be nice.
While Carbon may not be perfect, it is still one of, if not the best-looking Android Twitter client I've seen to date. With its minimal design, it has a lot more open space than other clients, and with its nifty animated details it just feels more polished. Carbon even supports multiple Twitter accounts, which Falcon Pro currently does not.
In the end, I actually prefer the look and feel of Carbon to that of Falcon Pro. I also love that it supports multiple accounts and it auto-completes usernames. However, I can see the set-in-stone 15-minute refresh rate being a deal breaker for many.