Twitter has released details of its long-hinted crackdown on third-party apps that mimic the "mainstream Twitter consumer client experience" in a blog post that sparked both confusion and outrage. In the announcement, Twitter said that developers have six months to bring their apps into compliance with the opaque new API, but left many questions unanswered. While some developers are working closely with Twitter to follow these new rules, other third-party services like Tumblr are speaking out against the new restrictions. Stay on top of this developing situation right here.
Sep 10, 2014
Twitter just announced Flight, its first mobile developer conference set for October 22nd in San Francisco. The event costs $140 to attend. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo will begin the day with a keynote, which will be followed by a series of technical sessions about "how Twitter can help you build the best mobile apps."Read Article >
Twitter won't help you build just any app, however. The company has a long, storied past giving and taking from developers hoping to make the most of the Twitter platform. Some developers like Tapbots and Tweetro fought with Twitter over building their own Twitter clients, while others such as StockTwits saw their inventions stolen outright by the company. Just this past week, TwitPic decided to shut its doors after being threatened by Twitter. You could chalk up all the drama to a misunderstanding, or to a late admission by Twitter that you can use its data to build all sorts of great things — just not entire Twitter clients or services that compete with Twitter's built-in functionality.
Mar 4, 2013
Twitter has announced that it will be discontinuing several TweetDeck apps in favor of the web client. The Android, iPhone, and Air-based desktop clients will all be affected; the apps will be removed from their stores in early May, and stop functioning soon after. Facebook integration will also be removed.Read Article >
The apps rely on version 1.0 of Twitter's API, which has just been superseded by 1.1, and as such the company warns that performance may be sporadic until it finally stops offering the products altogether. The newer desktop clients won't be killed, though they're yet to receive an API 1.1 update.
Feb 23, 2013
Popular Android Twitter client Falcon Pro is the latest to run afoul of Twitter's app restrictions. Earlier today, Falcon Pro's developers tweeted that it had hit the ceiling of 100,000 user tokens that Twitter's API allows for many third-party clients. That means that while people can still buy the app, new users won't be able to log in. To make things worse, running out of tokens doesn't necessarily mean 100,000 people paid for Falcon. It's listed on the Play Store as having between 10,000 and 50,000 installs, but extra tokens can be used up by things like piracy.Read Article >
Jan 25, 2013
Viewing Vine videos in third-party Twitter clients isn't the best experience right now: they work, but you have to watch using an external player after following a link, whereas the official app displays them inline. From what we're seeing, though, it looks like it may not be too hard for third-party developers to integrate the new functionality in full.Read Article >
Paul Haddad of Tapbots, creator of best-in-class iOS client Tweetbot, has tweeted a screenshot that shows Vine videos appearing in the main Twitter feed of his app. This suggests that, unlike other new Twitter functionality such as the Discover feed, it's not being blocked for use by third-party clients. Of course, this is just a proof of concept for now, but hopefully we'll start to see Tweetbot — and other apps — adopting Vine in full soon.
Dec 4, 2012
After Twitter's imposition of strict API limitations "completely crippled" Tweetro, the popular Windows 8 client's developers have pressed reset. A new app called Tweetro+ is now available in the Windows Store for both Windows 8 and RT, but there's a catch — you'll have to pay $9.99 this time around, or $12.99 in a couple of weeks.Read Article >
As with the $19.99 Tweetbot for Mac, Tweetro+'s developers have felt the need to charge a fairly high price because Twitter's API rules limit third-party apps to a maximum of 100,000 user tokens. Tweetro+ allows you to use two Twitter accounts at first, but additional in-app purchases can raise that limit to five.
Nov 11, 2012
Tweetro has fallen victim to Twitter's strict new API policies that were announced earlier this year. According to an email we received from Tweetro developers, the app saw a huge spike in downloads after the release of Windows 8, and rapidly reached its 100,000 user token limit. Users now receive a "cannot connect to service" error when trying to authenticate the application, and Tweetro developers say the app is "completely crippled" as a result.Read Article >
Twitter originally said that developers would have until January or March of 2013 to comply with the platform's API changes, so Tweetro developers are questioning why their app has been cut off so early — especially when Twitter has yet to release its own official app for Windows 8. Tweetro has reached out to Twitter to discuss the future of their app, and says it may pull the app from the Windows 8 store and re-launch with a paid app if Twitter does not agree to loosen its policy. Twitter declined to comment on the situation.
Sep 20, 2012
In response to recent changes in Twitter's increasingly stringent third-party app policies, web service IFTTT is removing all Twitter "triggers," which let you set up "recipes" to automatically push favorited tweets to Evernote, or crosspost tweets to Google+. In an email to users today, IFTTT CEO Linden Tibbets specifically called out Twitter's new policy to "disallow uploading Twitter content to a cloud-based service" (Section 4A under heading I) that provoked a change. Additionally, IFTTT's quite useful ability to archive your tweets in a plain text file does not abide by Twitter's revised Developer Display Requirements, which mandate that tweets always look like tweets.Read Article >
Not all Twitter features inside IFTTT will disappear, however. Only "triggers" that begin with Twitter content are being removed. For example, you'll still be able to set IFTTT to automatically thank your new followers using tweets, but you won't be able to archive all the times people tweet at you. The site's Twitter triggers will be removed on September 27th.
Sep 18, 2012
As Twitter transforms from an open web platform to a more traditional media company, startups that built on top of it are leaving in search of new ways to grow their business. StockTwits founder Howard Lindzon doesn't mince words. "We've moved off the platform and so will everyone else. If we hadn't done that, we would be dead in the water."Read Article >
StockTwits is a real-time micro blogging service, but one devoted to discussion of finance, markets, and the economy. It began largely as a community of users on Twitter, where it pioneered the use of the $ sign to collect conversations around certain stocks — a convention which Twitter recently copied, much to Lindzon's dismay."It’s interesting that Twitter has hijacked our creation of $TICKER ie. $AAPL. It only took four years to ‘fill‘ this hole, though a few months back they told me in a detailed email it was not a hole they wanted to fill. You can hijack a plane but it does not mean you know how to fly it."
Sep 6, 2012Read Article >
Twitter has released v1.1 of its API and updated the "Developer Rules of the Road" document to reflect the changes. There's been not a little controversy over the new rules of late, most notably over the theoretical 100,000 user limit placed on third-party Twitter clients. While we previously heard that developers will have six months to comply with the new API requirements, it's not yet clear what will happen to those that flout them. Twitter has, however, seen fit to clarify the user limit by stating that it only applies to clients that "replicate the core Twitter experience." Of course, this refers to clients such as Tweetbot, which has already taken steps to avoid getting hurt by the new limitations.
Aug 23, 2012
Lately, Twitter's rule changes seem to draw a roadmap that consists of a bright red line leading straight towards a walled garden. In its latest move, Twitter blocked Tumblr from using its API to power a friend finder, once again raising a hue and cry across the web and, yes, across Twitter. Behind it all is the same old question: what is the Twitter platform going to become?Read Article >
Cutting off Tumblr was no surprise, it follows similar moves to block high-profile partners, LinkedIn and Instagram. With LinkedIn, it seemed like a simple-enough story: Twitter makes money on ads, LinkedIn would siphon some of that revenue away by displaying a massive number of Tweets within its own network, and so goodbye partnership. Tumblr and Instagram weren't about displaying tweets, but instead access to the "follow graph." Why cut them off? Twitter gave us a "no comment" response to Tumblr, but it at least was slightly more forthcoming back when it cut Instagram off:
Aug 22, 2012
Tumblr is the latest company to respond to the strict guidelines found in Twitter's new API terms. As spotted by Matt Buchanan, the site just abruptly removed Twitter from its "Find people you know" section, which previously scanned your Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter friends/contacts, matching them with users on the Tumblr microblogging platform. Now only the former two services remain.Read Article >
Instagram was forced to take similar action last month, axing Twitter from its own friend-finding capabilities after the massively popular photo app was blocked from utilizing the necessary APIs.
Aug 22, 2012
If there's one thing most people seem to agree on regarding Twitter's opaque new guidelines for developers, it's that third-party clients are the most likely services to suffer. Some client developers are staying optimistic, however — the creators of Tweetbot and Twittelator are continuing to work on their apps, and now the team behind Twitterrific has issued the most bullish statement yet on the matter. The Iconfactory says it's been working on a "major update" to its app for a while, and after consulting with Twitter is confident that nothing will need to be changed.Read Article >
The post doesn't go into detail about the update's new features, but we should be hearing more about it "in the days and weeks ahead." Twitterrific has been one of the most popular and enduring third-party Mac and iOS clients since it launched in 2007 — it's even been credited with using a blue bird logo before Twitter itself did — so it's encouraging to hear of a positive future.
Aug 20, 2012
Friday was an emotional day for the independent developers who have created many of Twitter's most popular apps. The company announced sweeping rule changes on Thursday afternoon that imply hefty consequences for apps from Flipboard to Instapaper. Trouble is, there are still some questions as to what those consequences are.Read Article >
The latest announcement is the most precise articulation yet of Twitter's attitude toward the apps that have symbiotically latched onto its back like barnacles on a whale. Still, it caused confusion immediately. The post mentioned a few apps by name, including tweet leaderboard Favstar.fm and the tweet storytelling app Storify, which were held up as examples of apps that "enable users to interact with Tweets," a genre that Twitter wants to limit. Founders of Favstar and Storify panicked until Twitter platform lead Ryan Sarver had to clarify that "we mean to call them out as good examples." Sarver continued to field questions, at one point tweeting that "clearly we definitely could be clearer if there is so much confusion."
Aug 16, 2012
Twitter has been broadcasting for quite some time that it would be making changes to the API that developers use to access it for apps and today the company is finally beginning to detail what those changes are. First and foremost, developers who create apps that perform traditional 3rd party Twitter client functions (like Tweetbot) will be limited to 100,000 users total before the developer must get "permission" and/or "work with [Twitter] directly." Current apps will be able to continue to function as normal, however once their "user tokens" double whatever they are today, these new restrictions will apply. Essentially, once any 3rd party app hits its user limit, the developer will need to have a "come to Twitter" moment at which something will happen, and the most likely scenario is that the app simply won't be able to take on more users.Read Article >
In case those numbers and what they mean aren't very clear, well, it's getting hard to argue that the confusion isn't by design. To clarify, Twitter presented a "quadrant" of types of apps and said it preferred that developers create analytics apps, Social CRM apps, and other types of essentially non-consumer-facing apps while avoiding traditional clients in the upper-righthand section of its chart. Again, Twitter said that developers "should not build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience."
Jul 26, 2012
Soon after LinkedIn fell victim to Twitter's new, stricter API policies, Twitter has blocked Instagram users from finding their Twitter friends in the app. A recent Instagram update removes the "Twitter friends" feature, and attempting to use it on the current version brings up an error messages that says "Twitter no longer allows its users to access this information in Instagram via the Twitter API." The change comes as Instagram celebrates reaching 80 million accounts, double its user base in April.Read Article >
Users can still post to Twitter through Instagram, but apparently the friend-finding feature did too much to "mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience." As Twitter attempts to monetize, it's increasingly allowing developers to feed content into its service but discouraging them from pulling data out. As TechCrunch points out, though, this marks a schism between two companies that were once very close — Twitter reportedly even considered buying Instagram at one point.
Jul 24, 2012
In light of Twitter's recent promise to crack down on third-party clients that use Twitter's API to "mimic or reproduce" the original client experience, Benjamin Mayo decided to conduct a rather unscientific study to find out just how many people use those apps. Because Twitter does not release such information, Mayo ran a script to count the source of a random sampling of tweets from about 9:00 AM until 5:30 PM on July 18th.Read Article >
The sample size is rather small at just one million tweets (for reference, as of March Twitter reported about 340 million tweets daily), but Mayo found that 70.8 percent of those tweets originated from first-party clients, which leaves third-party apps with about 29.2 percent. After further analysis, Mayo removed tweets from "non-clients" like Instagram and the Tweet Button from the total number, and found that 708,101 tweets out of 910,947 came from first-party apps, thus raising the percentage to 77.7 percent.
Jul 24, 2012
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has reiterated many of the storylines we've been watching from the social network for some time. He pointed out that the company hopes to become a hub for events both large and small, which lines up with previous reports that Twitter plans on centralizing news and information related to sports events like the Olympics. Costolo actually had foreshadowed this aim as early as January, when he elaborated on the space Twitter occupies between technology and media. The changes presumably will help Twitter reach a larger, mass audience — but perhaps an audience that's meant to come to Twitter's own properties, not third party apps.Read Article >
That latter point has been a contentious one (again) since a June posting from a Twitter developer promised "stricter guidelines" for third party developers. Big changes do indeed seem to be in store in the coming months, changes that are expected to make Twitter more of a wall-garden service than it has been to date. Costolo told the WSJ that the company would "soon explain further restrictions," and again dropped hints that may sound foreboding to third party app developers and users. He said that instead of wanting companies who "build off Twitter," he prefers "a world where people build into Twitter" (emphasis ours).
Jul 9, 2012
Twitter set off alarm bells across the web in recent weeks when it ended its partnership with LinkedIn and reiterated its warning that it would be cracking down on the terms of its API. The company didn't offer any explanation for why it removed tweets from LinkedIn, but speaking with sources familiar with the company's plans, The Verge has learned that major changes are coming in the next few months which will move Twitter from an open platform popular among independent developers towards a walled garden more akin to Facebook.Read Article >
The moves were not unexpected, as Twitter had announced in March of 2011 that it would not allow services which "mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience." Still, it had largely done nothing to the numerous clients — like Tweetbot, Tweetie and Twittelator — which replicate its basic experience. Developers had been hoping for the best and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Last week's news sounded like those dire footsteps. "Whatever perceived gains that might be achieved by eliminating the third parties should be weighed against the lingering public perception that Twitter got greedy," said Andrew Stone, founder of Twittelator. "And like the mythological Greek Titan Cronos, began eating each of his children as they were born."
Jun 30, 2012
There's drama in the Twitterverse today thanks to a blog post from Twitter and another from LinkedIn that followed within minutes. Twitter's post re-emphasized something it had said over a year ago (amid similar drama), that it would not look fondly upon developers who use Twitter's APIs to "build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience." Back then, the post led to concerns that Twitter was about to immediately cut off 3rd party apps. That didn't happen, but it did seem like a warning of some kind.Read Article >
The difference this time around is that Twitter's post was immediately followed by the news that LinkedIn's Twitter integration would be ending. Since 2009, LinkedIn has displayed Tweets from its users within the LinkedIn site. Going forward, LinkedIn users will only be able to send tweets out, not view them within the site itself.