Carbon Twitter Client for Android Review

Carbon for Android may be the best web to app transition

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plantronicsgermany/Flikr/CC BY 2.0

Carbon is a fairly new Twitter client on the Android platform. It originally started its life as a WebOS Twitter client. As an app for that now defunct platform, the Carbon Twitter app garnered high praise from users. That led to the developer promising an Android application. It took a couple years, and many promises from the developer, but Carbon for Android became a reality. Unfortunately, it became a reality at the worst time possible for a third party Twitter client.

Twitter started severely limiting how many users a new client could have. This has led to a Carbon for Android that doesn’t get updated that often, and one that could stop working for new users at any moment.

 

User Interface

 

The overall UI of Carbon is very nice. You get a dark Twitter client with a long press add on which brings up the standard Twitter functions like RT and favorite. The menu button/key brings up a nicely styled menu bar that gives you options for settings, trends, search, and filters. The filter functionality allows you to filter your Timeline based on people, hashtags or keywords. It's a little buggy, but in theory would allow you to search Twitter without worrying about the extra things Twitter adds into searches.

At the bottom you get three buttons: a new Tweet button, a button to get to your profile, and the menu button. Why the profile gets so much love here is anybody's guess.

You get between your Timeline, mentions, and DMs by swiping between the three columns. Unfortunately, you can't add columns to things like lists and saved searches.

Speaking of lists, Carbon does have list management, but it is actually separated into two different spots. If you want to get to the people inside a list you tap the menu key and then the list icon.

If you want to actually see what those people in the list are Tweeting, you get there by going to your profile and tapping on the list name. This is very confusing, especially for new users.

Another thing that is confusing is Carbon's decision to not label any buttons. While you might be able to figure what a little Y shaped icon means after a while, some users might not (it is the filter icon). Even the new Tweet button is represented by something other than what you'd think: +. Bottom line, in order to navigate the app, you have to do some trial and error before you know what's what.

 

Design

 

The design of Carbon is where the app really shines. It is minimalistic like Twicca, but actually seems finished. The text is easy to read, and can be made larger in the settings. You get styled in-line media for images and video from Twitter based-services and Instagram.

The next place where the design is very good is with the innovative animations.

 

Innovative Animations

 

Fans of Star Wars will love the pull to refresh animation that Carbon has introduced. Pulling down makes your Timeline fly downwards and appear like the text at the beginning of the Star Wars movies. Swiping through the columns also has some great animations.

This makes Carbon very fun to use. The best part is that the animations don't take too much time. Some apps add animations, but it detracts from the experience by adding time to simple actions. Carbon isn't like that.

 

Lack of Support

 

The biggest problem Carbon has is that it isn't updated often. The developer just released the 1.2 update, which brings basic features like an in-app browser. The update before that was released in February.

Updates somewhat slow, but it isn't entirely the developer's fault. Why support something that might hit Twitter's user limitation at any minute? This might stink for users of the app, but makes sense from a business perspective.

Conclusion

Carbon is one of the best Twitter Android apps, but can be a bit confusing for new users. It also lacks some features that power users want, like themes and customizability options. That being said, you should definitely give Carbon a try. It's free and doesn't require anything other than a Twitter ID to set up. Carbon for Android is available in the Google Play store for free. It runs on Android 4.0+.