Twitter's taking a slight turn away from the chronological structure it's stuck to for so long. Just as the company outlined in November, it's now starting to roll out a new "While you were away" feature that recaps tweets you've missed since last opening the app and surfaces them at the top of your timeline. It's not entirely clear how Twitter picks and chooses which tweets are worthy of the special treatment, though presumably metrics like retweets and favorites factor in. "Every time you open the Twitter app, you’ll see something great," the company said of the feature in November.
OMG, it appears Twitter is testing a Facebook-like algorithm for the Home stream called "While you were away..." pic.twitter.com/CpQQMLp0VO— Eli (@EliLanger) December 31, 2014
The result breaks up the flow of Twitter's timeline a bit, though it's not quite so drastic as the mangled news feed you get under Facebook's "Top Stories." Twitter hasn't enabled the recap for its entire user base yet, but recent tweets indicate that it's rolling out pretty widely, so a proper announcement can't be far off. And if you're not a fan, screenshots suggest there's a way to close out the summary and get right back to scrolling through your timeline as usual.
"While you were away" is just one of several improvements Twitter hopes can supercharge its user numbers and convince a large monthly audience of logged out users that it's worth signing in. Other works in progress include a better direct messaging experience and an instant timeline for new users, which should help acclimate them to the service.