Twitter appears to be working on a feature called “Search Subscribe,” which will let users opt to receive notifications for new tweets matching a search query. The feature was first spotted by developer Dylan Roussel, and appears to put Twitter’s bell notification icon next to the search box in its app. Tap the bell, and you’ll get notifications for new results.
Search Subscribe is only showing up in the Twitter Alpha app for now, so you shouldn’t take this as a sign that it’s imminent or even definitely coming. But it’s an interesting idea, and yet another attempt from Twitter to make it easier for users to find the stuff they’re actually looking for. Right now you can get notifications for individual users, or selectively mute or block things by keyword, but you can’t opt into specific tweets rather than specific tweeters. As 9to5Google points out, the closest analog to this is probably TweetDeck, which lets you create a column for a search result and get notifications every time it updates. And given TweetDeck’s looming demise as a native app, it’s good to see any of its features migrating to the lone remaining Twitter clients.
In one sense, signing up for what amounts to Twitter’s version of Google Alerts sounds like a hellscape nightmare of push notifications. Hit that bell on “Depp Heard” or “NBA Finals,” and watch your phone explode with useless notifications. But Twitter’s search allows for a lot of advanced filtering, such that you could use it to get notifications from a single person, but only their best tweets or the ones you care about most. Or, with some effort, you could search for just the tweets that mention the NBA or the Celtics or the Warriors or basketball in general, from your six favorite basketball writers, and only the ones that get more than 50 likes.
You can already create and save complex searches like these, but you’ll always have to go run the search every time you want to see what’s new. Search Subscribe could – and I emphasize could, because it could also be a huge mess — be a useful way to get exactly the notifications you’re looking for. Or, you could just do what everyone does with Google Alerts, and set one up for your name. In that case, given Twitter’s propensity for chaos and rage, the fewer notifications the better.
Again, there’s no indication whether or when this feature will launch. Twitter hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment, and given the ongoing shakeup in the company’s product team, all bets seem to be off with the company’s roadmap. But if it does, here’s some advice: choose your search very carefully before you hit that bell.