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Twitter scoops up Spindle in bid to improve local recommendations

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In April, reports surfaced that Twitter was experimenting with new ways to introduce local tweets into the timeline. All Things D reported that the company was looking at different ways to surface nearby tweets, either in the Discover tab or in the main timeline, as a way of making Twitter feel relevant and personalized no matter where you were.

We haven't seen any of those features materialize. But Twitter took another step into local discovery today when it acquired Spindle, makers of an iPhone app that alerted users to nearby events and deals based on their location. The app, which has now been removed from the App Store, integrated with social networks including Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and Yelp. Users could browse it for recent updates about events and deals around them, or let the app push recommendations.

"What's happening nearby right now?"

"We've spent the past two and a half years building a product that helps you answer the question: 'What's happening nearby right now?'" the company said in a blog post announcing the acquisition. "By joining forces with Twitter, we can do so much more to help you find interesting, timely, and useful information about what's happening around you." The team behind the app, which was founded by former Microsoft engineers, will relocate from Boston to San Francisco. Spindle itself will shut down.

As the number of daily tweets continues spiraling upward, it becomes increasingly difficult for the average person to keep up with activity on Twitter. The Spindle acquisition suggests a new effort to ensure that users see more of the relevant tweets around them — and it's not the only such effort this Twitter has made this month. Last week the company began showing off MagicRecs, an experimental account that sends followers personalized direct messages based on activity in their social graph. If 10 of the people you follow begin following an account within a short time period, for example, or favorite the same tweet, MagicRecs might send you a DM linking you to it.

Recent moves show that Twitter is thinking creatively about how best to harness the data flowing through its stream, personalize it, and make it more useful. The company isn't saying what the Spindle team will be doing once they land in San Francisco. But looking at Twitter's recent experiments with recommendations, it isn't hard to guess.