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Posts tagged with "twitter"

Tweetbot for iOS Adds 280-Character Tweet Support

Yesterday, Twitter extended the character limit of tweets to 280. Unlike some features, Twitter has made the new tweet length available to all third-party developers.

First out of the gate is Tweetbot by Tapbots. Less than 24 hours after Twitter’s announcement, Tweetbot users can use a full 280 characters in tweets. I expect we’ll see additional updates from other Twitter client developers soon.

Tweetbot is available on the App Store.


Twitterrific for macOS Adds Poll Support and Other Refinements

The Iconfactory is on a tear with Twitterrific for macOS updates. Version 5.0, the crowdfunded rebirth of the app, launched less than a month ago. A couple of weeks later, Twitterrific 5.1 added muffles and mutes, which we discussed on AppStories this week. Then yesterday, Twitterrific 5.2 dropped, with support for polls and and an enhancement of its user search functionality.

Poll support is notable because third-party developers don’t have access to Twitter’s polling APIs. Instead, users of third-party Twitter clients have had to go to the official Twitter client or the web to vote in polls, which I rarely bothered to do. Lack of API support hasn’t stopped The Iconfactory from implementing a workaround to make polls available to its users though. The feature isn’t perfect, but in my preliminary testing, I’ve been impressed with how well it works.

Twitterrific detects tweets that include polls by looking for clues like whether ‘#poll’ or the graph or ballot box emoji are used. The app also looks at the format of the question posed. If a tweet looks like a poll, Twitterrific displays a button below the text of the tweet. When the poll button is clicked, a popover with a mini-browser opens the poll so you can vote and see the results. If you want to monitor a poll, drag the popover away from your timeline to transform it into a standalone window that will stay put and can be refreshed with the latest results.

Poll creation still requires Twitter’s app or website, which cannot be avoided. Nonetheless, I can already tell that being able to open a poll, vote, and view results all from Twitterrific is going to increase my participation in them. For now, the feature is available on macOS only, but it is under consideration for the iOS app depending on how well it is received by users on the Mac.

Use the Cmd+U keyboard shortcut to search for a Twitter user quickly.

Use the Cmd+U keyboard shortcut to search for a Twitter user quickly.

Twitterrific also added fast user searching via the Cmd+U keyboard shortcut and has improved syncing of your timeline position between iOS and macOS. Next up for both versions of the app is support for Twitter’s new 280-character tweet limit, which, unlike polls, is available to third-party developers.

If you’re interested in trying a new Twitter client, Twitterrific is an excellent choice. The handful of gaps in the macOS version’s original feature set are being addressed rapidly and innovative approaches to things like polls set it apart from its competitors.

Twitterrific 5.2 is available on the Mac App Store.


Twitter Adopts 280-Character Tweet Limit

Twitter extended the 140-character limit of tweets to 280 characters for a test group of users in September. In a blog post today, Twitter’s Aliza Rosen proclaimed the test a success noting that the additional characters have been used where needed, but that most tweets remain under the previous 140-character limit.

As a result, Twitter has begun to roll out the new feature worldwide for every language where ‘cramming’ was an issue. The company describes cramming as:

the deviation of the actual length distribution from the theoretical log-normal distribution near the character limit — “cramming,” as it likely reflects people’s attempts to “cram” their Tweets within the character limit.

In plain English, cramming is when your tweet is just a little long, and you spend time editing it to fit into 140 characters. According to Rosen:

Historically, 9% of Tweets in English hit the character limit. This reflects the challenge of fitting a thought into a Tweet, often resulting in lots of time spent editing and even at times abandoning Tweets before sending. With the expanded character count, this problem was massively reduced – that number dropped to only 1% of Tweets running up against the limit. Since we saw Tweets hit the character limit less often, we believe people spent less time editing their Tweets in the composer. This shows that more space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a Tweet, so they could say what they want to say, and send Tweets faster than before.

Cramming is a bigger problem for some languages than others. At the other end of the spectrum are languages like Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, which can express more in fewer characters and will continue to have 140-character limits.

The new tweet length limit is still rolling out to users. If you don’t have 280 characters to work with yet, check the official Twitter again later because it will undoubtedly take a while to propagate to all users.


Twitter for iOS Adds Topic Feeds to Explore Tab

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.


Twitter Launches Redesigned UI Across iOS, Web, and Other Platforms

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.


Twitter Adds Filtering of Direct Messages From People You Don’t Know

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 for Apple TV Updated with Periscope Global Map

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.


Tweetbot 4.6 Brings Image Support in DMs, New Compose UI for Replies

The new compose UI for replies in Tweetbot 4.6.

The new compose UI for replies in Tweetbot 4.6.

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.

Twitter (left) and Tweetbot 4.6.

Twitter (left) and Tweetbot 4.6.

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.


The Twitter API Platform’s Future

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.

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