Alex Kantrowitz of BuzzFeed shares news on a feature Twitter recently rolled out in its iOS app:
Now you can view tweets sorted by topic, without having to follow anyone, right in Twitter's Explore tab...Twitter's algorithms will show you these topics based on what they know about your interests. Eventually, the platform will give users more control over what they see, the spokesperson said. The company will roll out controls that allow people to tell it they don't like a topic, which will inform Twitter's decisions on what to show them.
These featured topics are the first major addition to Twitter’s app since it launched a refreshed design earlier this summer; combined with those previous changes, topics make the Explore tab a more attractive place than ever to visit. As the home to search, Moments, trending hashtags, and now tweets organized by topic, Twitter has created an information hub worthy of one of its four primary tabs.
My favorite tidbit from the Buzzfeed piece is that Twitter plans to give users more control over which topics they see. Hopefully this isn’t limited to simply disliking certain topics, but instead will extend to offering full control of topics you want to see. There are certain topics I’d love to keep up with, but that I don’t necessarily want to follow specific accounts for, so a full-fledged list of topics to choose from – whether those topics relate to accounts I’m currently following or not – would be great.
Announced in a blog post earlier today, Twitter has a major update to its iOS app and other platforms rolling out to all users starting today.
The new design is inspired by Twitter’s Android client – and while that detail scared me at first, using the updated iOS app for a few minutes allayed all my fears. This is a clean, beautiful redesign that brings few drastic alterations, and instead focuses on lots of nice polishing touches.
The most significant change to the iOS app is the existence of a new sidebar menu that pops out from the left side of the screen. This menu provides a quick way to switch between different accounts, and also lists your Following and Follower counts, navigation buttons to access your Profile, Lists, created Moments, and Settings, as well as a handy toggle to switch Night Mode on and off. Everything in the sidebar is clear and well organized, with plenty of breathing room; my initial impression of this new menu is entirely positive.
Outside of the sidebar menu, the rest of the app feels very familiar, but with a variety of small tweaks that improve the overall experience.
- The reply icon has changed to a speech bubble, purportedly to create less confusion for new users.
- With your Profile now available from the sidebar, that leaves only four main navigation tabs: Home, Search, Notifications, and Messages. They all have fresh new icons that look great.
- Safari View Controller is now the default viewer for opening links. For a long while Twitter had been testing Safari View Controller with some groups of users, but making it universal is a welcome, long-overdue change.
- Reply, Retweet, and Like counts will update in real-time as you use the app.
- A variety of visual improvements, such as updated typography that includes the use of bold headers for different sections, rounded avatars, and more.
There’s more to explore, but that covers the bulk of changes.
Overall, I am a big fan of this redesign. The changes add up to a freshly improved, yet still familiar Twitter app, and my fear that it would too strongly resemble an Android app were unfounded. It may closely resemble Twitter for Android, but this still feels very much like an app that belongs on iOS.
Twitter says the changes are rolling out over the next several days, so it’s possible you may not see them yet. Twitter for iOS is available on the App Store.
If you have opened your Twitter direct messages to receive messages from anyone, Twitter now separates them into two buckets: an Inbox and Requests. Your Inbox collects DMs from people you follow, while Requests are DMs from people you don’t follow. You can review Requests without the sender knowing you’ve reviewed their message until you accept it. If you accept a request, that person’s direct messages will be delivered to your Inbox in the future.
Based on some preliminary testing by The Verge, it appears that the new direct message handling functionality is slowly rolling out to users across Twitter’s apps and website.
Twitter has updated its Apple TV app with an interesting new way to view Periscope videos from around the world. The feature is called Global Discovery, and it was announced in a tweet earlier today.
Once you open Global Discovery in the Twitter app, you'll be presented with a zoomed out view of Earth. The face of the planet is scattered with various pins representing different Periscope streams that are currently live. It's a clever way to discover live videos from radically distant parts of the world. I enjoyed being able to easily hop between Periscopes from areas in the U.S. and others in Asia, on the other side of the world.
Navigation in Global Discovery is limited to four options: you can scroll around the face of the globe, move from pin to pin (and thus video to video) on the planet's surface, and zoom in or zoom out. Switching between these options can be done at any time using the Siri Remote's Play/Pause button.
Global Discovery is a nice evolution of the Map view found in Periscope's iOS app, and one that takes advantage of the big screen to great effect.
In an update released today on the App Store, Tapbots has started taking advantage of Twitter's more flexible third-party API to allow users to send images in private conversations (DMs). The feature – which has long been available in Twitter's official app – is limited to static images for now (no videos or animated GIFs), although the Twitter API could make more attachment types possible in the future.
Perhaps more notably, Tweetbot 4.6 comes with a redesigned compose interface for replies. Similarly to Twitter's iPhone app, Tweetbot 4.6 doesn't count usernames against the 140-character limit. To present this change in functionality, Tapbots has opted for a Twitter-like design where usernames aren't displayed in the compose box upon starting a reply. Instead, a "Replying to..." banner at the top of the screen highlights the tweet's original author and other participants in a conversation. Tap the banner, and, like in the Twitter app, you'll be a shown a popup with a list of users you're replying to. The author at the top of the list can't be de-selected; other users in the conversation can be removed by tapping on the blue checkmarks.
While this design is similar to Twitter's, it should be noted that Tweetbot limits this presentation to the compose view for replies. Unlike Twitter's official apps, usernames are still displayed in the body of a tweet in both the Timeline and Mentions views, providing a familiar format that doesn't force you to tap on the "Replying to..." banner from every section of the app. Personally, I believe Tapbots adopted a better solution than Twitter itself: the compose UI is nicer and usernames are easier to remove, but the timeline retains the familiar @usernames that add context to inline conversations.
I'm curious to see how Twitter's new API roadmap will impact third-party clients such as Tweetbot over the next few months. Tweetbot continues to be my daily Twitter client on every platform, and I hope Tapbots will be able to add even more native Twitter features in future updates (I'd love to have support for polls in Tweetbot).
Tweetbot 4.6 is available on the App Store.
Twitter today disclosed future plans for its API platform and published a public roadmap where developers can track the company's progress.
One of the most significant changes announced is that later this year the company will be unifying its API platform, combining the strengths of its Gnip APIs with its more affordable REST and streaming APIs. This will simplify the platform and provide more powerful APIs at, in theory, lower costs to developers with smaller-scale needs – though pricing plans have not been announced at this point.
The announcement post contains many details on the API platform's future, but a few specific things are highlighted which launch today or in the short-term future:
- Today, we launched the Account Activity API, which provides access to real-time events for accounts you own or manage, with delivery via webhooks.
- Today, we also launched a set of new Direct Message API endpoints that will enable developers to build on the new Direct Message features we recently announced.
- Later this year, we’ll launch a new set of tools that enable developers to sign up, access, and manage APIs within a self-managed account. This will including the ability to get deeper access and more features, all with a transparent pricing model.
- We’ll also be shipping a new Search API that provides free access to a 7-day lookback window with more sophisticated query capabilities and higher fidelity data retrieval than is currently available. We’ll also provide a seamless upgrade path to full-fidelity 30-day or full archive lookback windows.
Twitter's openness regarding its plans should be an encouragement to anyone who depends on third-party Twitter clients like Tweetbot or Twitterrific. The Direct Message API, for example, will now support media attachments like the official Twitter app.
Although it may be some time before we see today's announcements bring specific benefits to third-party apps, Twitter has had a rocky relationship with developers in the past, and today's announcement is a sign of commitment to its API platform and developers.
Twitter has announced a major change to the way replies are handled across all platforms – on the web and in iOS and Android apps. Presumably the Mac app will be included as well. Sasank Reddy writes:
Now, when you reply to someone or a group, those @usernames won’t count toward your Tweet’s 140 characters.
With this change, we’ve simplified conversations in a few ways:
- Who you are replying to will appear above the Tweet text rather than within the Tweet text itself, so you have more characters to have conversations.
- You can tap on “Replying to…” to easily see and control who’s part of your conversation.
- When reading a conversation, you’ll actually see what people are saying, rather than seeing lots of @usernames at the start of a Tweet.
One potentially confusing detail worth mentioning: although the usernames of those you reply to will not count against the 140-character limit, if you add any new usernames to the body of your reply, those new mentions will count against your limit.
You can see today's change in action by watching the following video:
This update is rolling out to all users now. If you haven't seen it yet, it should be coming to you soon.
Continuing the company's recent efforts geared at stopping abuse on its platform, Twitter today announced several changes in a blog post by Ed Ho.
One behind-the-scenes change is in how Twitter monitors potential abuse and proactively addresses it. The company has implemented algorithms meant to detect potentially abusive behavior and address it without the need for users to report the behavior. Ed Ho gives the examples of an account "repeatedly Tweeting without solicitation at non-followers or engaging in patterns of abusive behavior that is in violation of the Twitter Rules." He admits that mistakes will likely be made as they begin this proactive monitoring, but states that the algorithms and tools will be continually worked on for improvement.
A change more visible to users involves additional tools found in the Twitter app. Ho writes:
We’re also introducing new filtering options for your notifications to give you more control over what you see from certain types of accounts, like those without a profile photo, unverified email addresses or phone numbers...We’re also expanding the mute feature to build on the work we did in November which lets you remove certain keywords, phrases, or entire conversations from your notifications. Now, you’ll be able to mute from your home timeline and you can decide how long this content is muted – one day, one week, one month, or indefinitely.
The final change announced today has to do with Twitter's transparency in responding to reported harassment. Notifications will be used to confirm that a report of abuse has been received, and also to share if/when an action is taken in response to that report.
The user-facing features announced today will be rolling out soon to all users.
Last December, BuzzFeed reported that Twitter built and killed a messaging app. It wasn’t the first time rumors circulated that Twitter was working on a messaging app, but for whatever reason, none has ever been released. That left a void that developer Andrew Hart has filled with his new iPhone app TwIM, a modern messaging app built on top of Twitter DMs.
There’s a lot of friction involved in trying a new messaging service. Not only do you have to want to try the service, but you have to convince friends or family to try it too or you'll have no one with whom to chat. That’s a significant disadvantage that TwIM sidesteps for anyone whose contacts are already on Twitter. What’s more, TwIM sets itself apart from the built-in direct messaging functionality of other Twitter clients with better content handling and support for the latest iOS features like Siri, interactive notifications, and 3D Touch. That gives TwIM a shot at appealing not only as a messaging app, but to anyone who wants a better direct messaging experience.