It’s been nearly seven years since Twitterrific 5 launched on the App Store, and so much about Twitter has changed since then. One major shift is the seismic increase in media shared on the platform; as our devices and data speeds have gotten faster, so too have the amount of GIFs, images, and videos we share online grown. While Twitterrific has certainly done its fair share of adapting for the times in previous updates, adding improved media controls and the like, today Twitterrific 6 introduces the most significant updates for the app’s media experience to date. There’s a new GIPHY integration, autoplaying videos and GIFs in the timeline, and a lot more. Added to that, users can now customize their Twitterrific experience in fresh ways thanks to additional themes, icons, and a new font.
Posts tagged with "twitter"
Linky is a tiny utility for iOS that I love. The app serves as an easy way to share to Twitter or Mastodon from the iOS share extension, and I use it every day to tweet MacStories articles or new episodes of Adapt. Used from Safari, the Linky share extension can automatically populate a tweet compose field with information from the site you’re viewing, such as its title, URL, and featured images. Linky’s ease of use makes it my favorite way to share content via tweets.
Earlier this week, Linky was updated with two new enhancements to its text shot feature. For years now the app has enabled easy creation of text shots for sharing portions of an article, or personal thoughts that exceed Twitter’s character limit. That text shot feature is now better than ever though thanks to the addition of highlighting and visual customization options.
After Linky has created a text shot – which happens upon activating the share extension when a portion of text is selected in Safari – you can tap that new image to enter editing mode. Inside editing mode, swiping over any portion of text in your text shot will cause it to highlight. This highlight can be one of five colors, and from the settings menu in the bottom-right corner you can choose whether the highlight is textured or solid. The feature is incredibly easy to use, and offers a great way to further call out certain words or phrases in a text shot.
Linky also offers an array of customization options for a text shot’s appearance. You can choose from one of six font options for the text, all of which look great; the background of the text shot can be white, sepia, gray, or black; you can also choose a minimalist theme or the default original. The added flexibility offered makes me far more likely to use text shots on a regular basis.
If you ever share clips of text you find online, Linky is hands-down the best way to do that. The app also includes support for multiple accounts, so you can tweet from several accounts at once, and offers annotation features for standard images. All told, I can’t recommend Linky highly enough.
Beginning today, Twitter users can add images, videos, and GIFs to their retweets / quoted tweets. The company is rolling out this new feature across Android, iOS, and Twitter’s mobile website; it’s not on desktop quite yet, however. Adding media to a retweet works just like you’d expect: tap the “retweet with comment” option and then choose the image or GIF icon in the toolbar.
This feature is long overdue for the service, and Twitter’s design implementation appears solid. Displaying media when quoting a tweet that doesn’t have any seems like it wouldn’t have been particularly hard, but the real challenge is in media tweets quoting media tweets. Twitter’s solution works well: when a tweet containing media is quoted, and you add media to your retweet, the original tweet’s content is condensed to fill a space that’s not much bigger than before, ensuring timelines don’t get too cluttered with endless stacks of media tweets quoting media tweets.
Presumably, third-party apps like Tweetbot and Twitterrific will be granted the ability to create quote tweets with media as well. Currently, each app has its own way of displaying these tweets: in tweets with media that quote more media, Tweetbot shows the original media, while Twitterrific shows that of the retweet; however, Tweetbot does display both forms of media when viewing a tweet’s Detail screen.
In addition to bringing media retweets to more platforms, it sounds like Twitter has some other enhancements already in the works for the new feature, such as increased interactivity with quoted tweets.
Another update is coming soon to make Retweets with media more interactive and easier to read … we’re also exploring more ways to help people express themselves. Stay tuned!
— Twitter Design (@TwitterDesign) May 6, 2019
Twitter already enables you to tap media thumbnails in quoted tweets to load that media in full, so it will be interesting to see what other interactivity the company plans to add in the future.
See it? Tweet it! Our updated camera is just a swipe away, so you get the shot fast. Rolling out to all of you over the next few days. pic.twitter.com/moOEFO2nQq
— Twitter (@Twitter) March 13, 2019
The new camera placement models that of Instagram, which has long enabled quick camera access via a horizontal swipe on your feed. Though this change for Twitter doesn't come with an entirely new feature, such as Stories, it does condense a couple existing features into an easier-to-access location.
Upon opening the new camera screen, you can tap the Capture button to snap a quick shot for tweeting, or hold down that button to record video clips that can be strung together and shared as a single video – both of these features existed before in the tweet compose screen, but they'll now be more prominent than ever. The new camera interface also grants quick access to Twitter's live-streaming feature, which previously was also limited to the compose screen. The idea here is that sharing photos, video, or livestreams of current happenings should be as seamless as possible.
As demonstrated in the video above, photos and video captured by the new camera are formatted in a special way. Casey Newton of The Verge describes the new look: "Once you’ve snapped your image, a colorful chyron appears on top, ready to add an optional location and caption. You can change the chyron from the default blue to one of five other colors."
Though Twitter's new camera doesn't bring with it big feature changes, it does serve as a key indicator of direction for the company. By providing a new, prominent method for accessing the camera, Twitter is signaling that it likely has more camera-focused moves up its sleeve for the future.
Every few months, I like to use Twitter's official app for iPhone and iPad for a while and reassess its advantages over third-party clients, as well as its shortcomings. This is something I've been doing for several years now. While I've often come away unimpressed with Twitter's native offerings, switching back to Tweetbot or Twitterrific after a couple of days, it's been a week since I started using the official Twitter app on my iPhone and iPad again and I don't find myself craving Tweetbot's UI design or timeline as much as I thought I would.
In an interesting move that highlights Twitter's recent efforts to develop its product more openly, soliciting feedback from its user base, the company invited The Verge's Casey Newton to a meeting where it shared details on a handful of new features it's working on.
A new design that more clearly indicates how to reply to tweets was one project in the works. Current prototypes resemble the sort of UI found on Facebook and Instagram, with a reply button indented underneath tweets. Related to that change, and in another modeling of other popular social networks, the UI for threads is being worked on to better resemble a conversation rather than a string of individual tweets.
hey Twitter. we've been playing with some rough features to make it feel more conversational here. presence and reply threading. still early and iterating on these ideas. thoughts? pic.twitter.com/3U3NvpHWPy
— sara haider (@pandemona) August 31, 2018
One of my favorite ideas from those shared with The Verge was something Twitter calls "ice breakers." Newton writes:
Another feature Twitter is considering is a twist on the pinned tweet designed to promote conversations. The company showed me a design that would let you pin an “ice breaker” to the top of your profile to let people know you wanted to talk about something specific. The company’s design director, Mike Kruzeniski, told me it could help Twitter users channel their followers’ enthusiasm into discussions they wanted to have — whether it be about a new project, a current event, or some other item of interest.
The current implementation of pinned tweets is fine, but I love the idea of conversation starter tweets that can be changed up over time as users’ interests and desires for connection change.
Finally, presence indicators and status indicators are two similar features that would, respectively, let the world know when you're online and ready for conversation, and share a status within your status such as “at WWDC19.” While I'm generally not a fan of presence indicators, according to Newton Twitter’s will be entirely optional, which I appreciate. If the feature were used sparingly enough, it could be a replacement for the standard AMA (“ask me anything”) tweets that are common when a user is free and open for conversation. Most likely though, Twitter will activate presence indicators by default for all users, making that specific use case doubtful.
None of these changes are set in stone, so be sure to make your voice heard if you feel strongly about any of them. As Twitter’s Sara Haider told Newton:
“Coming up with a product in a silo and dumping it on people is not going to work,” she said. “Some people are going to love it. Some people are going to hate it. We want to understand what people’s feedback is, and then tweak and iterate on the product.”
Twitter has begun introducing a series of features aimed at highlighting the news and events of the day. The company has also updated how Moments are displayed in the official Twitter app. According to Twitter, the goal of the changes is to make it easier for users to follow the news without having to know which accounts, hashtags, and Moments to follow.
Current events is the primary focus of the new Twitter features, many of which will not be rolled out for weeks or months according to a Twitter blog post. The Explore tab now includes breaking news stories displayed as captioned image banners across the top of the section. Tapping into a story opens a collection of images, video, and tweets in a horizontally scrolling narrative.
Below the highlighted story, Explore is divided into separate sections according to topic. My sections include ‘Trends for you,’ and ‘Today’s Moments’ followed by topical tabs like Software Engineers, Gal Godot, Technology Journalists, and Indie Game Developers. The quality of the content of each section is hit or miss. As you can see from the screenshot below, Twitter’s definition of ‘Software Engineer’ is loose and I got a section full of tweets about Gal Godot because, as Twitter helpfully explains, I liked an MKBHD tweet that mentioned her.
In the coming months, Twitter plans to add breaking and personalized news at the top of users’ feeds similar to the sports news feature that the company introduced in 2017. Twitter has said that it plans to start sending users push notifications based on their interests in the coming weeks too. From Twitter’s blog post, it appears these will be turned on by default requiring anyone who doesn’t want to see the notifications to turn them off:
Now we’re experimenting with sending notifications to you based on your interests (like who you follow and what you Tweet about), so you won’t miss a beat. You can always turn off these notifications by going to your recommendations settings and toggling to not see news.
Twitter is also changing Moments to scroll vertically like your timeline and adding a dedicated World Cup page.
None of these changes has a meaningful impact on my Twitter use because I use a third-party client, but they still bother me. I prefer to manage what I see on Twitter myself. Twitter may think it knows what I want to see, but judging from the suggestions in my Explore tab today, it’s ability to do that is questionable. Also, the addition of notifications that will be turned on by default strikes me as tone deaf considering current efforts of companies like Google and Apple to help users better manage notifications.
For now, the changes are contained mainly in the Explore tab. It will be interesting to see how users react when the changes spread to targeted news in their timelines and they begin receiving push notifications about raccoons climbing skyscrapers.
In April, Twitter delayed a transition to a new API that was expected to have a significant impact on third-party Twitter clients like Twitterrific and Tweetbot. The delay came in the wake of an outcry from users of third-party Twitter clients prompted by developers who banded together to encourage users to complain to Twitter about the API changes that were set to take effect on June 19, 2018. Today, Twitter announced that those changes would go forward on August 16, 2018 – about two months later than originally planned.
Yesterday, in an interview with Sarah Perez of TechCruch, Paul Haddad of Tapbots, the maker Tweetbot, said:
“Twitter has a replacement API that – if we’re given access to – we’ll be able to use to replace almost all of the functionality that they are deprecating,” he explains. “On Mac, the worst case scenario is that we won’t be able to show notifications for Likes and Retweets. Notifications for Tweets, Mentions, Quotes, DMs and Follows will be delayed one to two minutes,” Haddad adds.
He also says that Tweets wouldn’t stream in as they get posted, but instead would come in one to two minutes later as the app would automatically poll for them. (This is the same as how the iOS app works now when connected to LTE – it uses the polling API.)
In addition to announcing transition date, Twitter announced pricing for its new API, and it’s expensive. A subscription covering 100-250 users will cost $2899/month, which works out to over $11 per user for 250 users. Anyone with over 250 users, which would include all the major third-party Twitter clients, is advised to contact Twitter for enterprise pricing. However, the pricing on the API's lower tiers doesn’t leave much room for optimism.
Third-party clients that can’t or don’t want to pay those prices will have to make do without timeline streaming and push notifications for likes and retweets. Other notifications will be delayed approximately 1-2 minutes according to statements by Haddad to TechCrunch.
For its part, Twitter has made it clear, that the functionality of the old APIs will not be coming to the new APIs:
“As a few developers have noticed, there’s no streaming connection capability or home timeline data, which are only used by a small amount of developers (roughly 1% of monthly active apps),” writes Twitter Senior Product Manager, Kyle Weiss, in a blog post. “As we retire aging APIs, we have no plans to add these capabilities to Account Activity API or create a new streaming service for related use cases.”
We contacted The Iconfactory, the maker of Twitterrific, and Tapbots,1 the maker of Tweetbot, to ask about the impact of the API changes on third-party clients and Twitter users. According to Iconfactory developer Craig Hockenberry:
A lot of functionality that users of third-party apps took for granted is going away. That was the motivation for the apps-of-a-feather.com website - to soften the blow of this announcement.
Hockenberry elaborated that The Iconfactory has reached out to Twitter regarding enterprise pricing for the new APIs, but says that he doesn’t anticipate the pricing will be affordable absent a significant discount.
On the one hand, this latest blow to third-party Twitter clients may be something that some users, including me, are willing to tolerate. On the other hand, this is yet another example of third-party client hostility demonstrated by Twitter stretching back at least five years that doesn’t bode well for the long-term viability of those apps. I asked Hockenberry what he thinks the changes mean to third-party Twitter apps. His response:
Long term, I don’t think there will be any apps other than the official one. I also don’t think Twitter realizes that many long-time users, who are highly engaged on the service, are also the people who use third-party apps. These folks will look elsewhere for their social media needs.
Given Twitter’s repeated hostility towards third-party clients, that’s a hard sentiment to argue against and one that gets my attention more than Twitter’s announcement. I can live with the latest changes to Twitter’s API, but if third-party developers conclude that their time and resources are better spent elsewhere, I expect the end of the Twitter I know and use today is closer than I thought.
- As of publication of this post, Tapbots has not responded to our inquiry. ↩︎