Before Twitter had their own app I tried many different options like Tweetdeck (way too busy), Heltweetica (meh), and Echofon all of which needed to be revisited when Twitter announced their new application policies. Today we’ll look at the features of Echofon.
I suppose it’s also worth noting that since Twitter has made their announcement on how they plan to treat applications moving forward I just won’t use the Twitter supplied apps, yeah it’s a moral stand. Echofon, Tweetdeck…helped make Twitter what it is and they’re just biting the hand that fed them. I wrote [more](http://yourworkflow.ca/2011/03/13/twitter-jumping-the-shark/) about it previously so I’ll leave off the full rant now.
Really with Twitter apps there isn’t a lot of innovation that can happen. As long as the app handles @replies DM’s and lists in a pretty way 90% of people are happy with most clients. It’s the little extra features that make one client better than another, so what are the little features that make Echofon my current choice.
I find Twitter noisy and easily overwhelming so I prefer single column clients that are simple. Really I prefer simple software interfaces in general. Looking at my [Wakoopa](http://wakoopa.com/curtismchale) favourites is a great example of this. After my first few favourites I realized that I only really loved ‘simple’ applications. Well, Echofon suits this simple interface nicely. Single column with a place to type new tweets at the bottom. A few icons across the top to show @replies, DM’s, lists and search and that’s it.
Being a Vim user I love that Echofon has basic navigation with Vim keys. Want to navigate up in the list of tweets then ‘k’ is your friend, down then it’s ‘j’. If you’re not using Vim then you just don’t know how awesome full keyboard navigation is.
Jumping off Vim keys is full keyboard navigation. Sure a mouse is useful in some scenarios but those are few and far between in my opinion. Twitter is about text and it’s not faster to take your hand off the keyboard to select a tweet, send a new reply, see a user profile…so why on earth would you do it. Full keyboard navigation is one of the things that turns me off any application quickly.
Just like many others, I’ve got [multiple](http://twitter.com/curtismchale) [Twitter](http://twitter.com/yourworkflow) accounts so having a way to access them easily is high on my list. Well Echofon supports as many accounts as you want.
Echonfon also deals with media like many other clients, it just displays it in a new window without opening your browser. It’s nice that we don’t have to open a new application all the time to view minor things like this.
While I feel that notifications are time sinks 99% of the time (since you’re working hard and getting distracted) Echofon does support many types of notifications if you’d like. You can set notifications for tweets, @replies, and DM’s. It also supports Growl notifications if you want those.
I mentioned above that Echofon includes Vim keys, but unfortunately it’s only a partial implementation. The really annoying item that’s missing is ESC. When pressing ESC it should take you out of the new tweet window and allow you to navigate up and down the list of tweets, but it doesn’t. To get out of the new tweet window you’ve got to move your hands off the home row of the keyboard over to the arrow keys and press up or down. Once that’s done you can go back to normal navigation. It just seems pretty obvious to me that this should be a supported feature but it isn’t and it’s really annoying.
While Echofon supports multiple accounts, it’s easy to forget they are there since it gives you no indication that you’ve set up a second/third account. I actually had to check in the application preferences to see if it supported multiple accounts only to discover that I had 2 others set up.
It’s also hard to see what’s going on in other accounts. I’ve tried a few ways to get notifications or @replies in my non-primary accounts with no luck. Even making a highlighted word in the preferences doesn’t make it show the Growl notice. I assume that this is because it’s only updating the active account. A final solution would be to run a search for the @reply to an account and show a growl notice for it but that doesn’t solve the issue if you have more than one account that you want to monitor @replies for in the background. This minor annoyance could be solved by simply allowing notifications to be set per Twitter account instead of globally.
If you regularly have conversations with multiple people you’re going to get really annoyed by this pretty quick, Echofon doesn’t include all usernames in a reply. Yeah that’s right you’ve got to type it out to include the other person included in the Tweet or they won’t have it show up as a reply.
Adding to the annoyance from the above point is the fact that Echofon doesn’t currently autocomplete the usernames of people you follow. So when you’ve got to type in that other name, you’ve go to type it in fully with proper case and all that jazz. It would certainly be nice to have some assistance with it but you’re not going to get it.