Today Twitter announced a test, limited to Brazil, of a major new feature for the social service: Fleets, which take their inspiration from the Stories feature found on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.
Fleets, short for “fleeting tweets,” live at the top of your timeline just like stories do in other social media apps, and they disappear after 24 hours. Multiple fleets can be written in a day and include text, images, GIFs, and videos, but the way they are interacted with is different than a standard tweet. There’s no way to retweet or reply to someone’s tweet in a public sense; instead, followers can react to a fleet via DM, or a reaction which is sent via DM. Presumably this means that if someone’s DMs are closed, only people they follow can respond to their fleets.
This new test was announced by Twitter Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour in a series of tweets where you can see both images and video of fleets being demoed.
Normally tests of new features, especially ones as limited as this, wouldn’t necessarily merit reporting on because there’s a good chance they may not come to fruition in full release. Fleets, however, are a major new functionality for Twitter and they have clearly had a lot of work poured into them. They’re also a reflection of where other social media services have already moved, making it highly likely that they’ll eventually get a wide release on Twitter, in some form or another.
Although I’m not a big user of ephemeral sharing on other services, and that’s unlikely to change here, I’m nevertheless happy to see Twitter continue pouring work into evolving its product. If fleets do get a worldwide release in the future, I’ll be interested to see if they cause the quality of timelines to improve as tweets are reserved for more important statements while fleets house everything else.
Yesterday, Twitter rolled out a useful new feature that makes it easier to append new tweets to a past thread in its iOS app. Although you could already find an old thread and add to it, the new feature lets you do so from inside the compose field. That way, you can start a fresh tweet and decide after you’ve written it that you want to tack it onto an old thread.
The mechanic is simple. From the tweet compose view, pull down. Your most recent tweet will appear so you can continue it as a thread. Alternatively, there’s also an ellipses button next to ‘Continue Thread’ that you can tap, and all of your tweets come into view in reverse chronological order. Pick one, and the tweet you were composing is added to that thread. If you have second thoughts, there’s still an option to remove the tweet from the thread before tapping the Tweet button and sending the new message.
Twitter announced the feature with a tweet that includes a GIF demonstrating how it works:
Features like this have slowly but surely led me to start using the official Twitter app again. It’s been a painful process after years of using third-party Twitter clients, and I’m still doing a lot of my tweet reading in Tweetbot where I have an extensive collection of muted terms. Yet, as my overall time using the service has waned a little, I’ve found that the features that I can’t get from third-party apps have drawn me in more and more.
Chance Miller, writing for 9to5Mac:
Twitter is rolling out an update to the official Twitter for iPad app that brings a much-needed interface redesign. With today’s update, Twitter for iPad now better takes advantage of the added screen real estate available on the iPad.
As first noted by _Applesfera_, Twitter for iPad now features a multi-column view that allows you to see quite a bit more information. Up until now, Twitter for iPad featured a single timeline of content, surrounded by white space on either side. This led to a lot of wasted space, particularly in landscape mode.
With this redesign, Twitter for iPad now looks and behaves more like the Twitter web app. The menu bar has moved from the bottom to the side of your timeline. On the other side of the timeline, you’ll now find trending topics and other dynamic content.
I’m intrigued by this redesign because, for the past several years, the Twitter app for iPad has offered one of the worst designs on the platform, with an oversized iPhone layout that took no advantage of the extra screen real estate provided by the iPad Pro.
Looking at these early screenshots, I don’t love that Twitter is using the additional column for trends and search options – I’d rather have a customizable column (à la Tweetdeck) to display any kind of Twitter content. It would be great if the extra column could also show tweets from search results: for the past several months, I’ve been using a saved search to check out a complete timeline of my mentions; in theory, I should be be able to view my timeline and mentions at the same time by virtue of having two columns on iPad. Unfortunately, I think Twitter is just going to replicate the web app’s layout and use the additional column for search filters and trends (example) – tweets will always be displayed in the main timeline. If you compare the current Twitter web app running in Safari for iPadOS to the screenshots of the iPad app’s redesign, you’ll notice that they’re essentially using the same layout.
It looks like Twitter is A/B testing this redesign for now, and I don’t have it yet. I’m going to reserve judgement until I can actually play around with it, but if my interpretation is correct, this won’t bring true multi-column support to Twitter for iPad. Sadly, the original, groundbreaking, Loren Brichter-designed Twitter for iPad is still a distant memory.
Twitter today announced long-overdue support for iOS Live Photos. Rolling out now on all compatible platforms, whenever you add a Live Photo to a tweet you’re composing, you’ll see a new GIF button in the corner of the image. By default the button is crossed out, indicating the Live Photo will be shared as a still image. However, with a single tap you can choose to share your Live Photo as a GIF instead.
Live Photos first debuted in 2015 alongside the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, but there were plenty of questions at the time about whether the feature would be adopted by social media services or not. For Twitter we now know that the answer was yes, eventually.
I think turning Live Photos into GIFs is a great idea, especially since Twitter auto-plays GIFs by default as you scroll your timeline. Not every Live Photo deserves to be converted to a GIF, which is why I’m glad the feature isn’t on by default, but being able to change that with a single tap is a nice option to have.
It’s time for Apple Watch apps to grow up, and Chirp for Twitter is leading the charge.
Chirp 2.0 debuted today, offering a full-featured Twitter experience on the Apple Watch. Chirp was already the prime Twitter client on watchOS, but with version 2 the app becomes something truly special: an iPhone-quality app on the Watch. Thanks to SwiftUI and other new developer tools Apple has built for watchOS, Chirp can do all the things you would expect from a full-featured iOS app, such as load your whole timeline, with liking and retweeting functionality, display videos and open links embedded in tweets, offer tweet composition, full user profiles, DMs, and much, much more.
Watch developer Will Bishop has been shipping impressive apps for a while, but Chirp 2.0 undoubtedly represents his best work yet.
Casey Newton reports for The Verge on a new Twitter feature coming soon:
Recently, a friend told me he wanted to spend more time using Twitter, but he didn’t quite know how. His primary interest is comedy, he told me, and he hoped to find a way to see comedians’ best jokes on Twitter as they were posted. But when he followed comedians, he mostly saw a lot of self-promotion — tour dates, late-night appearances, and that sort of thing. No matter your personal interests, there are countless good and relevant tweets on Twitter. But where are they?
Topics, a new feature from Twitter that is starting to roll out this week, represents a significant effort to answer that question. You will be able to follow more than 300 “topics” across sports, entertainment, and gaming, just as you are currently able to follow individual accounts. In return, you’ll see tweets from accounts that you don’t follow that have credibility on these subjects.
Topics represent a major new addition to the Twitter timeline, easily one of the most significant changes the service has ever introduced. Though topics have the potential to improve a person’s timeline, they could also have the opposite effect if not done well. Based on this report, it sounds like Twitter’s team has all the right checks in place to ensure tweets from topics are things you’ll actually care about. Here’s Newton on how the process works:
First, Twitter scans incoming tweets for keywords like “WWE,” “pro wrestling,” and so on. (It can’t search for those terms in images and videos, at least not yet.) Second, Twitter searches to see if the tweet is from someone who normally tweets about that topic as a measure of credibility. Finally, Twitter looks at engagement: how many other people who care about this topic liked, retweeted, or replied to a tweet? The more people are interacting with the tweet, the more likely it is to make the cut.
I’m eager to try following a few topics to see whether they have a positive or negative impact on my timeline. I think the feature will be a clear win for users who are new to Twitter, and don’t already have a well-curated collection of follows; for those who have used the service for years, though, it may not be as appealing. And there’s no word on whether topics you follow will appear in your timeline in third-party clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific.
We won’t have to wait long to find out: topics are starting to roll out this week with a full global launch next Wednesday, November 13th.
This fall has been a significant season for the iPad. While new hardware has been limited to an updated entry-level iPad, the software changes have more than made up for the dearth of hardware updates. September brought iPadOS, the new branch of iOS that packs advancements like multiwindowing, an upgraded Home screen, and more. Mere weeks after iPadOS launched, macOS Catalina enabled a host of iPad apps to be brought to the Mac, which in some cases meant those iPad apps became more Mac-like as a result.
Thanks to these recent software changes, a couple of key Twitter apps for iPad have been updated to offer key new functionality. Twitterrific has become the first Twitter client to add multiwindow support, enabling creating separate windows for different accounts or different views within the same account. The first-party Twitter app, meanwhile, has recently added extensive support for external keyboards, likely as a side benefit of the app making its way to the Mac. In both cases, the Twitter experience on iPad has been meaningfully improved in ways that power users will appreciate.
Twitter is back on the Mac with an all-new Catalyst app. Twitter abandoned its Mac app early last year with a late Friday tweet:
Given the lack of support for the app leading up to that point, Twitter’s actions weren’t surprising. However, that left Mac users with only Twitter’s web app or third-party apps until yesterday, when the company released a Mac Catalyst version of their iPad app.
Twitter’s iPad app isn’t known for a strong design:
Four years have passed since Federico tweeted that and Twitter’s iPad client hasn’t gotten much better, which left me skeptical about what a Mac Catalyst version of Twitter’s app would look like. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well the port works on the Mac despite some rough edges.
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.