Twitter is testing a feature that would show users tweets from the surrounding area, All Things D reports, opening up new ways for the company to surface local information and advertising.

As described by All Things D, the feature would highlight relevant tweets from nearby Twitter accounts whether or not a user was following them. Sporting events, concerts and other big gatherings could all be made more interesting with an easy to see what fellow fans were tweeting about. Location already helps determine which tweets are shown on Twitter's Discover tab; the new feature could show up on the main timeline.

Tweetie was doing this in 2009

Twitter's latest push into local discovery reportedly came about during a recent hack week. But the idea isn't new. Third-party client Twinkle had the feature in 2008. Searching for nearby tweets was also an option in Tweetie 2.1 for iPhone, released in November 2009. The feature made it easy to discover what people were saying at gatherings like concerts, even at a time when Twitter was still breaking into the mainstream. But Twitter acquired Tweetie the following April, and nearby tweets eventually disappeared.

Exactly how local discovery would be implemented reportedly remains under debate; it could be relegated to the Discover tab, or it could someday appear in the main timeline. In any case Twitter appears to be treading carefully, and for good reason — no small number of users would likely revolt were they to suddenly start seeing tweets about nearby garage sales in their timelines every time they opened the app. But it's also the case that Twitter's popularity on mobile devices makes local discovery a natural place for the company to focus its attention.

Twitter has not yet responded to a request for comment.