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It's not often we see a new Twitter App for Android, and even less rare that I take the effort to fire off some words about it.

In the past Twitter Apps were churned out on a weekly basis. Most were bad, however those days are gone.

Step forward Talon for Android.

Talon is currently in 'beta' but can be downloaded from the Google Play store for small change (it's not free, but more on that later).

It is full of well thought-out features, and the developer is extremely engaging.

Beyond all the typical features of any Twitter app, there are a few subtle but nice nuggets:

  • Replying to a Tweet also includes the hashtags (if you wish)
  • Images can be previewed; zoomed; saved directly from the timeline -- not just twitter images, also Instagram and other image services.
  • Web page can also be previewed
  • Specific hashtags can be muted -- if you are not interested in a topic the tweets will not show
  • Auto-lookup of @ usernames
  • You can 'Favourite' specific users giving you a timeline only showing their tweets
  • Themes are supported, as is auto-theme switching. Example: switch to a darker theme at night
Talon example screens on a mobile device

Talon example screens on a mobile device

There are a few things Talon does not yet support, however that list reduces with each update.

For me, the one annoyance is lack of support from more than two Twitter accounts. I have one personal account, one for business, and one for the blog. Talon only permits two at the moment.

Although Talon is still in beta the rate of updating is impressive. Almost every day there is a new version.

The developer, Luke Klinker, is very engaging with his user-base and is open to suggestions for new features. A feature could be discussed one day and is live (on the beta) the following. I've also reported a few small bugs which were fixed the following day.

All support and interaction is done via a Talon Google+ community -- this is the first time I have seen an App being supported in this way; it seems to work well.

There is a downside to Talon, and to be fair all Twitter Apps.

The downside stems from Twitter's own decision to control (restrict) the API used by developers to interact with Twitter data.

Basically Twitter restrict a developer to 100,000 users (Twitter call them tokens) for an App. Once an App has reached the golden-number no new users can connect to Twitter. A developer can apply to Twitter to have this lifted to 200,000 or beyond however there are strict rules around the up-lift and any App which solely impersonates the features of Twitter's own App will not get an increase.

The API also does not give a developer access to all Twitter data. For example, it's not easy for a 3rd party app to tell who has retweeted or favourited a tweet (the API only returns a count).

Twitter have these restrictions in place in an attempt to encourage the development of unique apps for Twitter data. That's the official line but I suspect it is also to encourage you to use their own App.

This does make 3rd party Apps a little awkward sometimes. In the case of Talon there is a feature called 'Talon Pull' which sits in the background monitoring your timeline activity (in order to give you the equivalent of push notification, and more stats).

All this said, Talon is a great product and looks like being a huge hit. Once it reaches 100,000 tokens there will be problems (no new users!). I suspect this is part of the reason the App has a charge. It might make the random user think twice before downloading it, therefore saving a token from someone else!

I have been using it since launch day on 13 January. For me it was the best £1.21 I spent in the Google Play store :-)

Review based on Talon version 1.11

site by DAJ