Fenix for Twitter is awesome and you should try it

Background: I've tried all the "big- name" Twitter apps: the official client, Plume, Echofon, Falcon Pro, Carbon, Talon, etc. After all the drama with Falcon Pro and the token limit, I've actually gotten into the habit of buying any new Twitter client that is well-reviewed, just to reserve my token in case I want to switch later. However, I've never found an app that was able to replace Falcon Pro. Until now.

A few weeks, I saw that Marques Brownlee was recommending Fenix. I tried it, and it's amazing. I feel like there hasn't been enough hype about this app - possibly because it's still in beta, so you have to jump through some hoops to install it. But even in beta, I feel like Fenix is easily stable and fully-featured enough to use as my primary Twitter client.

So, without further ado, here are some reasons why Fenix is awesome:

1. It shares a name with one of my favourite Starcraft characters.

2. The design of the app is simple and beautiful. The most basic task of any Twitter app is to display the timeline in a way that is legible and pleasant to read, and Fenix excels at this:

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In my experience, lots of Twitter apps overcomplicate things when it comes to displaying the timeline. They have borders, they put the tweets in little boxes, and so on. Falcon Pro puts a border around the timeline, and each author's name into a separate box. Fenix demonstrates that all of this is unnecessary: it uses different fonts and weightings to separate each tweet, and puts a simple horizontal separator between them.

3. It has pretty pictures. Fenix strikes me as an attempt to bring the aesthetics associated with apps like Flipboard (ie. lots of whitespace, distinct typography, full-bleed images) to a Twitter app. You can definitely see this when it comes to images:

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The disadvantage of this approach is that information density is rather low. On my N4, Fenix typically displays about 3-4 tweets per page, where as Falcon Pro displays 4-5 tweets. But to my mind, that's an acceptable tradeoff. I'm willing to scroll a bit more if it means having a design that's more pleasing to read. Also, if the large images annoy you, you can replace them with a smaller inline preview or disable the feature entirely. (You can also change the font size of the tweets, and switch the whole app to a "holo dark" theme that I'm not really a fan of.)

4. The interface is simple and easy to navigate. Here, I must admit that I do miss Falcon Pro's "dual-sliding" paradigm, which allowed quick access to your profile, lists and trending topics. Fenix has a more conventional UI, with a single navigation drawer that has a nested category for your lists. You can still access lists easily enough; it just requires a slide and two taps, instead a slide and one tap as with Falcon. However, it's not immediately apparent, but you can slide the whole timeline over to the side, which acts as a shortcut for quick access to mentions, DMs, etc. It would be nice if you could customise this feature a bit.

5. Built-in browser. I follow a lot of news sites on Twitter, and one of the features I most liked about Falcon Pro was the built-in browser that would automatically "mobilise" the text of the articles using services such as as Instapaper. However, the "mobilising" service seems to have become less reliable during the last year, and I eventually turned it off.

Fenix also has a built-in browser (though it doesn't offer the "mobilise" feature). However, clicking on a tweet takes you to the (pretty and well-designed) conversation view rather than the contents of the article:

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However, you can access the built-in browser by tapping on an URL, either from this screen, or directly from the timeline. It took me a day or so to get used to this, but I've since come to the conclusion that this system is superior. It means there are two distinct commands for viewing the content or viewing the conversation, and there's never any confusion about which one you want to see. Plus, the ability to access the internal browser straight from the timeline a useful time-saving feature in its own right.

To conclude: Fenix doesn't offer as many features or customisation options as other Twitter clients. This might change in future, since the app is technically still in beta. However, it already offers sensible defaults, and an elegant design. It might not be the best for everybody, but for my use-cases (ie. reading the timeline, reading articles, replying to friends, checking lists), it's the closest thing I've found to the perfect Twitter client for Android.