App Preview: Carbon beta [video] 14
While the webOS App Catalog is certainly smaller than most other app stores, it still has a good selection of apps. Some categories may be lacking, but one where webOS has consistently had plenty of options has been the Twitter category, and developers are showing no signs of slowing down. The newest entrant into the Twitter app fray is a new beta called Carbon, from developer dots & lines.
Carbon offers a new take on the Twitter experience and an understated but beautiful interface. The scheme offered by Carbon is that your home, mentions, and direct messages timelines are split into three panels called “parallel timelines.” Switching between the three is as simple as swiping left or right on the screen or in the gesture area (there’s a set of three dots along the bottom to help keep you oriented).
Though just a beta, Carbon is still packed with features. For instance, your direct messages are threaded in a Gmail-style conversation view for each, well, conversation. A handy two-finger scrolling called “power scroll” gets you to the top and bottom of the panel. In addition to the standard image previews, Carbon also recognizes tweets with links to videos and will show a preview and play link for that video without having to first open a browser redirect card. Carbon also has forgone the links to webOS read later clients, instead offering integration directly with Instapaper and Read It Later for the links in a tweet, or even an entire tweet. Carbon does have integration with the webOS Foursquare app; tapping on a 4sq.com shortened link will launch straight into the app.
When it comes to the tweets you write, you’re presented with a plethora of options. There’s type-to-tweet (just start typing and it’ll open into a compose scene) and the option to have new tweets composed in a separate card so you can reference back to your timelines while composing. The new Twitter fast retweet is present and is your only option for retweeting; there’s now a quote button with options for how you do the old-fashioned retweet: RT, via, and straight-up quotation marks. And if you’re replying to a tweet that mentions multiple names, you can automatically reply to all.
In the current release of the Carbon beta there are neither notifications nor background or automatic refreshes, so when you load you do need to manually trigger a refresh. Even there you’re given options - you can have Carbon scroll to “first new,” e.g. the top and most recent tweet, or “last new,” the bottom of the new tweets and the oldest tweet in that load.
Carbon also comes with support for multiple accounts (as any good Twitter client will). You’re given the standard choice of selecting a different account to tweet from in the compose scene (or card). But you’re also given the option to open each of your Twitter accounts in a separate card, allowing you to keep tabs on them at the same time. This’ll be especially handy on webOS 2.0 devices with Stacks.
This is just a preview of all the options available in Carbon, but as you can see it’s incredibly full-featured, even if it is a beta. The developer has promised that Twitter client staples like geotagging and profile location updates are coming, along with notifications and drafts. There’s even a new feature called the “hashcard” that will monitor a Twitter hashtag for updates. You can rest assured that this is a feature the PalmCast crew will make use of when it’s made available.
All of this and we just barely mentioned how attractive Carbon is. As the name might imply, Carbon has a dark interface, and it’s filled with custom elements. From the side-pop-up refresh icon to the fancy grid scrim (the overlay when accessing menu items) to the subtle colored bars to indicate your posts and replies to them, Carbon is rife with beautiful elements that make it a pleasure to use.
Carbon is currently in a closed beta, though UI lead developer M. Esmaeili does anticipate a public beta later on down the line, with an eventual release in the App Catalog. In the meantime, if you want to keep up on Carbon and get a chance to check out the next beta release, you can follow @CarbonWebOS on Twitter (naturally).