If you were using Twitter this evening and noticed a distinct lack of @ symbols in your mentions, you weren't alone. Twitter has confirmed that it 'accidentally' pushed an 'experiment around replies' to all iOS users, removing the conventional username signifier from the start of replies and making usernames no longer count toward character limit.
The update has now been rolled back after what seemed to be a broadly negative reception. “Upside, we got helpful feedback,” Twitter says. “We’re listening!” But it may not be totally gone forever, as a similar feature was actually announced back in May — for whatever reason, it’s just taken this long to spread to a wider audience than Twitter’s usual small test groups.
“[Users] have to learn this weird syntax that kind of looks janky,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told The Verge in May. “So we want to take that away first and foremost to remove some of the confusing aspects of the service." Today’s update, although its development cycle appears to have been inspired by cicadas that only live for a few weeks above soil after spending 17 years underground, was very much in line with that philosophy, so you should probably expect it to return in another form at some point.