Posts tagged with "twitter"

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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

But:

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.

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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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Twitter Launches Tweet Recaps in Main Timeline

After announcing (and rolling out) some initial changes to the timeline last year, Twitter is back today with the latest modification to the stream – a recap of popular tweets you may have missed.

A lot can happen while you’re on the go. To fill in some of those gaps, we will surface a few of the best Tweets you probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise, determined by engagement and other factors. If you check in on Twitter now and then for a quick snapshot of what’s happening, you’ll see this recap more often; if you spend a lot of time on Twitter already, you’ll see it less.

When Twitter started rolling out tweet recommendations based on accounts you follow, many complained about the fact that the change was breaking Twitter's nature and making it more akin to Facebook, and therefore not intuitive. While I understand that position, I actually found the “tweet injections” to be not that terrible in practice:

Twitter is working on an instant personalized timeline that you don’t need to set up, but their willingness to bring discovery of tweets and users to the timeline is trickling down to existing users who have an account and already follow people. Like many others, I’ve started seeing tweets from accounts I don’t follow pop into my timeline based on what another person saves or follows. External tweets (as I call them) I’ve seen always came with a reason attached – “Joe favorited” and “Kyle follows” indicate why a tweet is being included in the timeline.

In my experience, these relevant tweets have been mostly good – I’d say 70% of the time I either laughed at a funny favorite I was being shown or got interested in opening the profile page of a user I didn’t know. The other 30% of external tweets were either American sports or duplicate tweets that I had already seen but that a person marked as favorite.

I don't know if tweet recaps will be useful to someone who's always reading his timeline (the only time when I miss tweets is usually at night). Twitter seems to be aware of the controversial nature of the change:

Our goal is to help you keep up – or catch up – with your world, no matter how much time you spend on Twitter. With a few improvements to the home timeline we think we can do a better job of delivering on that promise without compromising the real time nature of Twitter.

Apps like Nuzzel have shown that there's potential in figuring out ways to let users catch up with news shared on Twitter, but Twitter's feature appears to be much simpler, offering less controls. In theory, I think it's a good idea. Most people still don't get Twitter and how you're supposed to keep up with news after you've closed the app. Offering small chunks of inline tweet recaps could help in letting relevant tweets surface more easily, but it's too early to tell.

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Twitter’s Native Video Player

A post on TechCrunch from yesterday claimed to offer details on Twitter's previously announced native video service for users, but the company refuted the rumor. According to Twitter, the details uncovered on the video.twitter.com website refer to native videos for Twitter Amplify users, another initiative announced in August 2014.

As a user of the Twitter app for iOS, I've noticed native Twitter videos (promoted or not) for a while now. They're actually not terrible: they don't have all the options of YouTube, but the play inline with a card and have essential playback controls.

This tweet, for example:

Looks like this on the iPhone:

I only noticed today, however, that The Verge's video has a button to open an associated webpage in Twitter's inline browser, which was new to me. I also didn't know that videos could be minimized on the iPad, just like SoundCloud audio cards can be minimized on the iPhone:

Twitter Video is expected to be rolled out in the first half of this year, and I'm curious to see what the company will do with it. As a fan of Twitter's move towards integrated cards on mobile, I think that native videos (that are longer than Vines) have potential to integrate nicely with other media types in the timeline. It'll be interesting to see how users and companies that are currently using YouTube will react to native Twitter videos. Considering the impact that Twitter photos had on how content is shared on Twitter, I'd keep an eye on native videos enabled for every user (not just promoted tweets or selected publications).

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