Got Windows Phone? Then you’ve got Twitter built right in. So why would you want a stand alone app that’s dedicated to Twitter? The answer is pretty obvious once you start using a really good Twitter client – enter Carbon. I’ve been lucky enough to have access to early beta versions of Carbon and provide feedback to the developer on bugs and issues I’ve come across. And over that time, I’ve really come to enjoy the experience that Carbon brings to Windows Phone.
First off, let’s get the availability questions out of the way. I’m writing this review based on Release Candidate of Carbon. If all goes well, the next step is releasing it in the Market Place. Hopefully there is no RC2 and you’ll be able to try it out yourself really soon.
What makes Carbon such a great twitter application? Features like: multiple Twitter accounts, Gesture support (for quick actions and replies), translations, username autocomplete, background updates, Live tiles and notifications, threaded DMs, and so much more. But perhaps one of the greatest features is that everything is available on the same screen. You don’t see a lot of windows opening. Most of the functionality is done with pivots.
When you launch Carbon the first time, you’re presented with the timeline view that will populate with the last 60 tweets in you stream. This number of tweets is configurable up to 100. This screen is pretty much what you would expect – scrolling up and down to view your twitter stream. Swipe your finger across the screen, and you’ll be looking at your mentions stream. A double tap on any tweet will kick you into the quick reply mode, or you can simply tap and hold the tweet for a list of actions like reply, quote, and retweet, that can be preformed on that tweet. Swipe your finger across the screen again, and now you’re looking at messages (DMs) and once more and you’re viewing the quickline. Quickline allows you to see any retweets of your messages, retweets to you, retweets by you, or select a list to view.
Along the bottom of these 4 main screens you have quick access buttons for creating new tweets, accessing the Carbon menu, searching, and refreshing the page. If you pull up drawer along the bottom, you will also have access to view trends (what’s trending on Twitter), go to @tweep, and accounts & settings. The really interesting one here is the go to @tweep. This will ask you for a Twitter account that you want to view. Just type in a name and it will take you right to that persons page. From here, you have access to all sorts of information like the person bio, location, and following status. You can also swipe to quickly view their timeline, mentions, friends, followers, favorites, and see any lists that they may be part of. You can also quickly tweet or DM them, and if need be, you can also report and block them.
If you tap on a tweet in your stream, you’re taken to a new screen that shows you tweet, and if there’s a link to Twitpic or the like, it will automatically load that image below the tweet. So you don’t have to jump out of the app to see the image. If you pull up the bottom drawer on the tweet screen, you have the added ability to share the tweet over email or SMS. You can also copy the text of the tweet or even kick off a translate
Swiping on this screen takes you between the Tweep and their message. This screen is the same screen you would see if you used the go to @tweep feature I mentioned earlier. The only difference here, is that you have the individual tweet you tapped on, showing on the screen next to the users details.
If you happen to tap on a tweet that is part of a conversation, there is a new screen inserted between the individual tweet and the users details that shows you the entire conversation thread.
With the release of Mango for Windows Phone, developers have so much more that they can do with their applications. It’s nice to see that Carbon is already integrated some of those features into the product. The animated live tiles that flip between your avatar and the Carbon logo are pretty slick. Plus, you can pin the timeline for each account right to your home page. So with a single tap I can launch into the Mobile Jaw stream. If you enable the live tile updates, it will even populate the tile when there are new mentions or DMs. You can also pin the compose window on your home screen. So a single tap on that tile, and you’re able to start tweeting – quick and easy.
If you do have multiple accounts in Carbon, the compose screen will let you tap on the account name, and quickly switch between accounts. Unfortunately, there is no way to post the same tweet from multiple accounts at the same time. You’re only able to select a single account to post messages from. However, considering how often I do something like that, and given the ability to Copy and Paste (thanks to the NoDo update!) I can quickly copy the text of my post before sending and then paste it into a new compose window so it can be sent again from another account.
Windows Phone limits you to one Twitter account. I’m not sure if there is a limit to the number of accounts you can setup with Carbon, but you can certainly see that it allows both of my accounts to be set-up, and it’s still allowing me to add another one. So it’s at least, 3 accounts.
There’s just about everything you would like to find in the settings for Carbon. You can customize and fine tune the experience to be just what you like – define the retweet style, change the number of new tweets to download, after refreshing what should have focus, and even support for things like TwitLonger, bit.ly and bit.ly Pro.
For my usage, Carbon has proven to be the most reliable, the fastest, and the easiest to use Twitter client on Windows Phone. The developers were more than happy to work with the beta group and listen to all their feedback. The end result is a really solid version 1 release that is loaded with features and functionality. Give it a try when it appears in the marketplace – I think you’ll be impressed as well.