Last April, Twitter announced that it would deprecate parts of its API that third-party Twitter clients rely on for their apps. Originally, Twitter planned to replace the functionality with a new Account Activity API on June 19, 2018. The trouble is, Twitter hasn’t provided third-party developers with access to the new API, which jeopardizes core functionality of those apps.
With the API transition looming, the makers of Twitterrific, Tweetbot, Talon, and Tweetings created a website to alert their users about the impact the changes to third-party Twitter clients:
After June 19th, 2018, “streaming services” at Twitter will be removed. This means two things for third-party apps:
- Push notifications will no longer arrive
- Timelines won’t refresh automatically
If you use an app like Talon, Tweetbot, Tweetings, or Twitterrific, there is no way for its developer to fix these issues.
We are incredibly eager to update our apps. However, despite many requests for clarification and guidance, Twitter has not provided a way for us to recreate the lost functionality. We’ve been waiting for more than a year.
The site encourages users to express their feelings about the situation to Twitter’s developer account with the hashtag #BreakingMyTwitter.
The response from unhappy Twitter users was swift. By the end of the day, Twitter announced that it would delay the API transition to an unspecified date in the future and provide at least 90 days notice to third parties before shutting down the old APIs.
Although it is good news that Twitter’s transition to the Accounts API has been put off, it doesn’t solve the issues that it raises for third-party developers.
Tension between Twitter and third-party developers isn’t new. Still, when Jack Dorsey returned to Twitter as CEO in 2015, he said he wanted to repair relationships with developers. It’s impossible to know if this latest episode represents a strategic shift for Twitter or mere indifference toward third-party developers. Either way, it’s a shame to see third-party Twitter clients, which pioneered many features that users love, under threat yet again.
Twitterrific, for iOS and the Mac, has a unique, fine-grained approach to what you see in your Twitter timeline using a combination of muffles and mutes. Muffles are rules that partially hide tweets from your timeline, while mutes hide tweets entirely.
With the update to Twitterrific for Mac and iOS today, The Iconfactory has migrated muffles of users that were set up as mutes to Twitter’s mute system. Mutes can be created from the action menu that’s accessible from any tweet or a user’s profile. With the new system, a mute created in Twitterrific will sync cross-platform to all copies of Twitterrific you use and also register as a mute with Twitter, so muted users’ tweets won’t show up on Twitter.com either. Muting prevents push notifications of a muted user’s tweets too.
All other muffle rules are unaffected by the change to mutes, but The Iconfactory has also extended the way muffles work. Any muffle can be applied to everyone in your timeline or just a specific person. For example, you can muffle all retweets, all retweets by a specific person, all retweets of a specific person’s tweets, or all retweets by a specific person of another person’s tweets. You can also muffle quoted tweets, quotes of particular tweets, or mentions of someone. There is a knowledge base article on The Iconfactory’s website that covers all the possibilities.
The Twitterrific update also adds support for video attachments to tweets. Videos must be less than 140 seconds long, but that’s the only limitation. On iOS, videos can be added from your photo library, if you long-press the camera icon, from any file provider, or with the app’s share extension.
The rate of updates to Twitterrific for the Mac and iOS continues to impress me and I love the addition of even more granular controls over my timeline that sync across iOS and macOS. If you haven’t tried Twitterrific in a while, it’s worth a look.
Twitterrific is available on the App Store for iOS and on the Mac App Store.
Twitter had previously shared that it was working on a new feature, Bookmarks, which would let users privately save tweets for later. Today the company announced that Bookmarks have officially launched and are beginning to roll out to all users across iOS, Android, and Twitter’s mobile site.
As part of this launch, the Direct Message button previously available on every tweet is being replaced by a new Share button – hit Share, and you’ll see the following three options:
- Send via Direct Message
- Add Tweet to Bookmarks
- Share Tweet via…
The latter option will load the system share sheet on iOS.
Tweets added to your Bookmarks are available only for your private viewing, and they can be found by opening the app’s sidebar and hitting the Bookmarks menu option. You can see the whole process of how Bookmarks work in the tweet below.
Everyone will have their own purposes for using Bookmarks, but for my own use, I’m considering saving links shared on Twitter for reading later. Normally I do this by saving to Safari Reading List, but Bookmarks may be a simpler alternative. Also, anytime I come across a tweet I want to share with my wife at the end of the day, Bookmarks should be a perfect fit for that.
Hot on the heels of Twitter’s abandonment of its official Mac client last week, The Iconfactory announced new Twitterrific features and a price reduction.
One of the highlights of the update is enhancements to multi-account support. If you have more than one Twitter account set up in Twitterrific, right clicking on the reply, quote, retweet, or like buttons displays a popup window for choosing which account you want to use for each of those functions. Alternatively, if you are in the middle of composing a reply or quote-tweet, click on your avatar in the compose window to switch the account from which it will be sent.
The Iconfactory has added several other nice refinements too:
- Lists of a person’s followers and who they follow have been added to user profiles.
- Avatars now include verified and protected status badges, although this can be turned off in Twitterrific’s settings.
- There is a setting to turn off tweet streaming, so your timeline can only be refreshed manually.
- Georgia is a new font alternative in the app’s preferences.
Twitterrific for Mac has come a long way since the commencement of its crowdfunding campaign last winter, and many of the shortcomings of version 1.0 that I highlighted in my review last October have been addressed. It’s fantastic to see Twitterrific continue to grow and evolve, especially now that Twitter has walked away from its Mac app.
To celebrate the one year anniversary of Project Phoenix, the crowdsourced Kickstarter project that relaunched Twitterrific on macOS, the price of the app has been reduced from $19.99 to just $7.99. Twitterrific is available on the Mac App Store.
In the time honored tradition of releasing bad news at the close of business on a Friday, Twitter announced via its Twitter Support account that it was removing its Mac client from the the Mac App Store and discontinuing support for the app:
Twitter gained a native Mac client when it acquired Tweetie for Mac from Loren Brichter in 2010, but the company’s support for the app over the years has been half-hearted at best. As John Gruber explained on Daring Fireball:
Twitter dumped Tweetie’s codebase years ago, of course, and their Mac app has been garbage ever since they did. It’s all fine, really, so long as they continue to allow third-party clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific to exist. But this “Mac users should just use the website” attitude is exactly what I was talking about here as an existential threat to the future of the Mac.
Twitter’s move is not surprising given the history of the app. Most Mac users I know moved on to third-party clients years ago. However, Gruber’s broader point is an important one. There has been an increasing trend away from native Mac apps and towards web apps and cross-platform apps based on technologies like Electron. Many of these non-native solutions are resource hogs, and even the best often fail to take advantage of OS-level features, which makes them feel out of place among native apps. Perhaps the rumored Project Marzipan is designed to reinvigorate Mac development, although it’s hard to see that working if companies like Twitter simply don’t care to provide the best experience on macOS.
Last night on Twitter, I noted that the company’s iOS app now appends a query parameter based on an app’s bundle identifier when you share a tweet’s link via the system share sheet.
As some have noted, this appears to be a recent change in Twitter for iOS, which is less than ideal as the resulting link contains a long string of URL-encoded garbage. More than ugly URLs, however, what bothered me was Twitter’s implicit tracking of which apps users invoke to share links with – something that even applies to core iOS features such as Apple’s own Messages extension.
I wondered whether Apple should consider this a violation of App Store guidelines, but it appears that Twitter isn’t breaking any rules by appending app-based query parameters to their shareable URLs. Benjamin Mayo looked into this feature and explained how Twitter is leveraging public iOS APIs to read bundle identifiers from the share sheet – he even posted a proof-of-concept code snippet to show how it’d work in practice.
In reality, this is very easily achieved. As part of the activity provider API, the system asks for content to share for each sharing extension the user has installed. The Apple framework openly passes the activity type to the app. Twitter simply takes the base URL it wants to share and appends the ‘garbage’ before returning.
The important thing to note here is that the mechanism is innocuous and uses valid APIs provided by Apple. Twitter is not exploiting private APIs to achieve this. A cursory look at the app review guidelines suggests to me there are no grounds for Apple to scold Twitter (or any other app) for doing it.
My personal stance is that this is annoying but does not violate user privacy. Importantly, Twitter cannot append arbitrary information to its URLs system-wide; it is confined to cases where users share something from inside the Twitter app itself. I don’t really see a justification for Apple to amend the guidelines to disallow it. I just take it as another reason not to use the official Twitter app.
In conclusion, if links to tweets you copied from the Twitter app suddenly look longer and messier than before, this is why. Personally, while Twitter may be taking advantage of a publicly available API, I still think the implementation is, at the very least, in poor taste – especially because it’s coming from the same company that used to scan users’ devices to list installed apps and deliver “tailored content” based on them. Even though I won’t stop using the Twitter app because of this, I wish Twitter would revert to standard, clean URLs when sharing tweets from the app. I also hope Apple is taking a closer look at this.
Earlier today Twitter announced that you’ll now be able to use a third-party app (such as Google Authenticator, Authy, or 1Password) for two-factor authentication instead of SMS. The company has updated their support document with instructions on how to set it up here.
This is great news as Twitter was the last service with 2FA that only supported sending codes via SMS. Switching from text messages to 1Password (which I use for one-time codes) was easy: in Twitter for iPad, I went to Settings ⇾ Account ⇾ Security, and enabled the ‘Security app’ toggle. I then selected to use another app to generate my codes and opened 1Password on my iPhone, where I hit Edit on my Twitter login item and scrolled to the OTP section. Here, I tapped the QR button, scanned the QR code Twitter was displaying on my iPad with the iPhone’s camera, and that was it.
Unless you specifically want to receive 2FA codes from Twitter via SMS, you should consider switching to a dedicated authentication app: these codes work independently from carriers and location, and they can be generated offline.
Twitterrific 5 for iOS was updated today with several new and improved features. My favorite addition is a true black theme that looks striking on the iPhone X. Users that pick the black theme are given a choice between a dark theme that has been modified for ‘greater contrast and clarity’ and the true black theme.
The app’s design has undergone other changes too. Users can pick avatars that are rounded rectangles, circles, squares, or squircles, and text sizes can be adjusted with more granularity thanks to the use of Dynamic Type.
Muffles, which are rules that partially hide tweets from your timeline, can be temporarily disabled now. Previously, the only way to deactivate a Muffle was to delete it.
Twitterrific’s experimental support for polls, which debuted on macOS recently, has been added to the iOS app too. To celebrate the holiday season, The Iconfactory has also added a new icon option: ‘Jolly Ollie,’ which features Twitterrific’s mascot in a Santa hat.
Twitterrific is available on the App Store.
Twitter’s latest feature – which is rolling out “in the coming weeks” – is another that’s been inspired by something users have been doing for a few years now: threads.
From the Twitter blog:
At Twitter, we have a history of studying how people use our service and then creating features to make what they’re doing easier. The Retweet, ‘@reply’, and hashtag are examples of this. A few years ago we noticed people creatively stitching Tweets together to share more information or tell a longer story – like this. We saw this approach (which we call “threading”) as an innovative way to present a train of thought, made up of connected but individual elements.
Now, hundreds of thousands of threads are Tweeted every day! But this method of Tweeting, while effective and popular, can be tricky for some to create and it’s often tough to read or discover all the Tweets in a thread. That’s why we’re thrilled to share that we’re making it simpler to thread Tweets together, and to find threads, so it’s easier to express yourself on Twitter and stay informed.
We’ve made it easy to create a thread by adding a plus button in the composer, so you can connect your thoughts and publish your threaded Tweets all at the same time. You can continue adding more Tweets to your published thread at any time with the new “Add another Tweet” button. Additionally, it’s now simpler to spot a thread – we’ve added an obvious “Show this thread” label.
As far as I can tell, this is a prettier interface for the original method of creating a thread by replying to yourself. Twitter has integrated a multi-post feature into the app’s compose box, and there doesn’t seem to be a new API endpoint for threading. It seems like a nice workflow with a ‘Tweet All’ button at the end. In theory, popular third-party clients could replicate the same behavior (and design) in their own compose UIs – just like various tweetstorm utilities create “threads” by posting multiple replies in a row.