In a world where people are judged based on whats apps they use and how old their iPhone is, sometimes it’s good to take a step back and analyze the mess we’re in. If you look back at the past 30 years of the computing, you can notice some disturbing trends. OS battles. The biological warfare equivalent of technology feuds, OS wars have been going on just about as long as operating systems existed. First there was the Mac and PC battles. If you were a PC you were the boring and bland consumer, while if you were the Mac you were the cool underdog. These wars stagnated over time, as it became clear that it would just end in a stalemate. Then with the uprise of iOS and Android in 2007, the tech world began to embrace it’s version of World War II, the smartphone OS wars. These were particularly dangerous. Stick your head out of a foxhole and the fanboys will not hesitate to shoot you to pieces. This brutal battle has now birthed a war within a war, the “App Attack” as I like to call it.
This sub-war is probably the most ridiculous and off base of them all, which is why I quickly embraced it. On one typical lonely Saturday night I was engaged is a fierce skirmish with the enemy, iMikeBeas
, over Twitter apps. These kinds of battles happen all the time with the people I follow, and sometimes I even start them just for fun. Anyways, Beasley had out the heavy artillery and was claiming that Echofon was the World’s best Twitter client. On the other side, I was declaring that Tweetbot reigned supreme. After about 20 minutes of cross fire, at the risk of having to break out my nuclear weapons, I informed Beasley that I would withdraw any further judgement of his beloved app until I had used it for a week. After all, Mike had used Tweetbot before, so it was only fair.
So with that, I began my perilous journey to see what was so magical about this app. Have you ever gone to what you thought would be a great movie, only to leave with a sour taste in your mouth, wondering why you spent the money? Well, that’s exactly how I felt, except I only downloaded the free, ad supported version of Echofon. Well, it’s been over a week, and now I’m here to judge. So here’s my full look at Tweetbot and Echofon. Hopefully I won’t have to dodge too many bullets.
1. The Timeline
Just as the screen is the most important part of a TV and salt is the most important part in McDonalds fries, the Timeline is the most important part of Twitter. First impressions are everything, and Echofon left me unimpressed. It’s not that it had a bad Timeline, it just wasn’t good. Everything felt cramped to me. The text, the profile pictures, it was all very claustrophobia inducing. I noticed this trend of minimizing graphics carried on throughout the app, and it just added to Echofon’s feel of more of a text focused DOS app than a graphically pleasing iOS app. While Echofon’s timeline displays more tweets, it sacrifices the cleanliness and integrity of the app. This is also the first place where we can spot immediate UI differences. Tweetbot’s tries to provide a rich, fun to use experience. To me Echofon is saying “Send that tweet and get out of here.”
2. The Profile
Maybe it’s that I’m obsessed with myself, or maybe it’s just because I have to constantly check if I have more followers than Zac Coffman
, but either way, I look at my profile several times a day. That’s why when I started using Echofon,
I nearly had a heart attack. The profile view looked like it had been designed by someone who was experimenting with Xcode and obviously had no prior UI experience. Echofon has been called the Windows 95 of Twitter apps, and it’s more clear here then ever. There’s so much text onscreen at one time, the UI just gets lost. It’s like the designers were wagering who could jam the most text in one window at once. Instead of creating a smooth and well though out UI like Tweetbot’s profile view, I’m presented with a jumbled together mess of text wrapped around an image.
3. Application Structure
Some design decisions in Echofon are well thought out, but most aren’t. This is the case with the main menu. While is provides a similar layout to that of Tweetbot, it’s ruined because of one big issue. The only way that you access your profile is by navigating back out to the main menu. This odd way of navigating is annoying to me, mainly because I like to access my profile alot. Otherwise, the settings for Echofon are probably more straightforward than those contained in Tweebot, albeit more limited. While I’m on the topic, I might as well discuss the UI in general. While stock iOS is fine, it’s sooo 2007. It’s starting to look a little old to me, especially with the iPad’s revamped UI, so Echofon’s style is a lot less visually appealing to me then Tweetbot’s is. This is just a personal opinion, but I know many other people agree, and I hope Apple addresses it soon.
4. Search And Trends
While Tweetbot may seem like the amazing do-all app, it falls short in some areas. Echofon blows Tweetbot out of the water when it comes to trending topics. Sometimes these topics are so bizarre and off base that I’m just dying to know what they mean. That’s where Echofon steps in, as it gives a short description about many topics. This was actually pretty handy, although I felt as if I lost several IQ points after reading descriptions for topics like #30thingsaboutme or #10thingsthatareattractive. Continuing the short lived trend, Echofon is also better at search. When you search for a user, you get a handy alphabetized listing of everyone you follow, a feature that Tweetbot doesn’t offer.
That’s where things fall short though. Other than a better notification sound, I can’t think of a single thing that Echofon does better, other than that it might be a little more stable. In the end, Tweetbot still reigns king, while the sad app that they call Echofon nearly squeaks by as acceptable. My final verdict: