Posts tagged with "twitter"

Twitter Rolls Out Option to Receive DMs from Anyone

Vindu Goel, writing for The New York Times:

Twitter announced Monday that its users will be able to change a setting on their accounts to allow anyone to send them a private message. In addition, if a person follows a big account — for example, from a company like United Airlines — the Twitter user can respond to messages sent by that account even if the account, United in this case, does not follow that individual.

According to early reports, the option is off by default and can be managed from a user's Settings on the Twitter website. On the Twitter blog, the company explains how businesses and other profiles could benefit from the new setting:

Communicating with people you may or may not know in real life just got easier. Previously, if you wanted to send a Direct Message to the ice cream shop down the street about how much you love their salted caramel flavor, you’d have to ask them to follow you first. With today’s changes, the ice cream shop can opt to receive Direct Messages from anyone; so you can privately send your appreciation for the salted caramel without any barriers.

The Twitter apps for iPhone (iPad not mentioned) and Android will get a new icon to indicate whether a user can receive direct messages from anyone or not. This new DM feature is not exactly new as, like many other options, the company first rolled it out for a limited amount of time in late 2013.


Redesigning Twitter Profiles

Over at the Twitter blog, Sana Rao has an interesting post on the design process of Twitter profiles for mobile devices and desktop. Some fascinating numbers:

On web we saw a 6x increase in the number of Tweet impressions from logged-out visitors browsing profiles and a 2x increase in the number of logged-out visitors who saw an impression of the profiles.

On iOS, the most remarkable change was a 38% increase in people visiting the new profiles and a massive 6x increase in users visiting the media timeline. Similarly, on Android we saw a 128% increase in people visiting profiles and over 2x increase in people visiting and scrolling on the media timeline.

I like Twitter profiles on the iPhone. The profile view (and many other features) could use some love on the iPad, though.


Twitter Launches Periscope

Periscope, Twitter's latest acquisition, has launched today on the App Store. For those who haven't been following the news, Periscope is a company that Twitter bought before the rise in popularity of Meerkat, a live streaming app. Periscope also lets you live stream video from your iPhone, but, according to early reviews, it's cleaner, faster, and obviously more integrated with Twitter's social graph – which was unceremoniously cut off from Meerkat.

Mat Honan has a good story on Periscope:

Fire up the app, launch the camera, and the app tweets out a message (if you want it to) that you have gone live. Simultaneously, a notification fires off — with that little look-at-me whistle — to everyone following you on Periscope. As they join in, they can comment on what you’re doing. And because it has super-low lag time — or latency, to use the term of art — people watching can comment on your actions more or less as they happen. It means that people watching the video can change the course of what’s happening. They can chime in with questions or comments, and all the while tap-tap-tap on the screen to send a stream of hearts to the broadcaster. Don’t want comments? Fine, you can turn them off. If you choose, you can let the video live on Persicope’s servers afterwards, where it will stay for 24 hours before disappearing forever. Or you can choose to let your video be purely ephemeral, living only in the moment and then gone forever. It is delightfully fun.

Joanna Stern's article, however, really hit close to home for me:

Maybe I should be thankful. Periscope’s biggest promise lies in those times when life is far from boring. Whether it be a breaking news situation or a friend’s traumatic experience, there are times when peeking in and watching a live story unfold makes the most sense. While it’s bound to be abused, this new way of communicating could bring us closer than any photo or recorded video could.

I experienced that this week. My friend Drew Olanoff, who has been suffering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, just had a stem-cell transplant. He’s been using Periscope to stream (or “‘scope”) from his hospital room, updating his friends and followers on his progress. Every day, he shows the board that lists his blood stats and flips the camera around—by tapping on the screen—so we can see how he looks.

Like Joanna, I don't know if my life is exciting enough to warrant a daily dose of live streams. But then again, before Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, most of us didn't think we'd be inclined to share so much about our daily lives either. Reading how Drew is using Periscope reminds me of when I was stuck there doing a stem cell transplant, and how I wished I could update all my friends and readers at once in a simple, natural way. Sure, I could send selfies to different iMessage threads and I could tweet text and pictures, but the idea of a real-time live stream is much more powerful. And Periscope is pretty cool: I came across some questionable streams in the Home tab, but the app is fast, polished, and, indeed, a window into the world of others.

Live streaming isn't new. But this new take on the category – fast, integrated, mobile – comes at an interesting time. Periscope is free on the App Store.


Twitter Teams Up with Foursquare for Location Tagging

Earlier today, Twitter announced that Foursquare will soon power location tagging across the company's suite of apps. In a video shared today, Twitter showed how location data by Foursquare will be embedded into Twitter for iPhone to allow users to tag specific places instead of using Twitter's previous (coordinate-based) location database.

This is an interesting move for a couple of reasons. First off, Twitter has chosen to rely on a third-party for a precise database of places instead of building its own from scratch – and they cleverly picked Foursquare, which has amassed an impressive collection of 65 million places in six years. I'm curious to see if Twitter will use this newfound power to enhance ads and offers on the service (imagine Foursquare-powered deals available in a Twitter card).

Second, Twitter needs to improve their local discovery features. With a richer collection of places, Twitter could unlock previously unseen contextual, local features that wouldn't be possible with simple coordinates (think venues like concerts and museums or spots like a cafe in Rome).

Foursquare's Dennis Crowley writes:

In addition to building the world’s most accurate place database, we’ve learned how to see buildings the way our phones see them — as shapes and sensor readings on the ground rather than boxes viewed from space. We’ve built software that can understand when people move through, stop within, and then move on from these shapes — whether the shapes are places, neighborhoods or cities. And we’ve built search and recommendation algorithms that get smarter as they learn about the shapes you choose to spend time in and the shapes you simply pass through. You’ll hear us talk about these things as “stop detection,” “snap-to-place,” “the Pilgrim engine” — they’re the pieces that make us confident that no matter where you’re standing in the world — whether it’s your own neighborhood or a far-away city you’re visiting for the first time — we can raise your awareness of the best experiences nearby and help you find places you’ll love.

Smart move from Twitter, and long overdue.


Twitter’s Dilemma

Twitter is two things. It is a concept — everyone in the world connected in real time — that’s so obvious in retrospect that it is impossible to imagine it not existing. It is also a product that has had a rough time living up to that concept.

A good piece by Matthew Panzarino on Twitter's recent launches and struggles to establish a product that makes sense to new users and investors. I'm curious to see where Twitter takes the service in 2015 – Panzarino mentions a redesign, which could be interesting (especially on iOS).


Twitter Instant Timeline

Vindu Goel writes about Twitter's new “instant timeline” feature, which will allow users to sign up and start reading tweets without curating a following list manually:

Over all, however, the quality of the instant timeline was so good that I was almost tempted to dump my regular Twitter account, where I follow more than 700 other accounts, probably one-third of which are no longer important to me.


The first part of the sign-up process is unchanged. After you pick a user name and password, Twitter asks for access to your smartphone’s contact list. Once you grant that access, the service scans it for people with Twitter accounts and suggests them as people to follow.

The feature has currently rolled out to a small percentage of users on Android. On multiple occasions, Twitter stated that getting people to sign up and enjoy the service without the burden of choosing accounts to follow is a priority for the company, and the results reported by The New York Times sound encouraging.

Still, I wonder how scanning contacts to find accounts based on common interest would work for people who have heard of Twitter but don't have friends who use it (example: my parents). Keeping this instant timeline in addition to the traditional way of creating an account and picking people to follow sounds good though, and I'm curious to see when it'll roll out to iPhone users.


Twitterrific 5.9 Brings Media Improvements

Multiple images in Twitterrific 5.9.

Multiple images in Twitterrific 5.9.

In my in-depth look at Twitter clients for iOS from December 2014, I noted Twitterrific’s fantastic support for iOS 8 extensions and thoughtful design touches, but lamented the app’s lack of integration with modern Twitter media features. In particular, Twitterrific didn’t support multiple images in tweets and animated GIFs; compared to Tweetbot, Twitterrific didn’t have inline playback for popular third-party sharing services such as Vine and Instagram either.

With today’s 5.9 update, The Iconfactory has considerably improved their client’s media preview capabilities by bringing native integration with the aforementioned services and support for Twitter’s GIFs and multiple images. Furthermore, Twitterrific has gained minor but welcome changes such as the ability to save source tweets to Pocket and show a user’s mentions by long-tapping a profile picture.

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