Twitterrific, one of the most iconic third-party Twitter clients, today said it has removed its iOS and Mac apps from the App Store. That reports Iconfactory, the company that made Twitterrific a blog post that under Elon Musk’s management, the social media network has become “a Twitter that we no longer recognize as trustworthy and no longer want to work with”.
The app has had a rich association with Twitter. It was one of the first mobile and desktop clients for the platform, and helped shape it the word “tweet”. In fact, Twitterrific was built in 2007 – even before Twitter made its own iOS app.
Twitterrific’s demise comes after Twitter deliberately began blocking third-party customers without explanation last Friday. Earlier this week, the TwitterDev account posted that the company had suspended these apps in violation of “its long-standing API rules.” But it did not specify which rules were broken.
Late Thursday, Twitter updated its Developer Terms to list “use or access to the Licensed Materials to create or attempt to create a replacement or similar service or product for the Twitter Applications.” under limited use of its APIs. Not long ago at all. That move essentially kills third-party apps.
But Twitterrific isn’t alone. A lot of other apps have started deleting or are preparing to remove their apps from various app stores. Tweetbot co-creator Paul Haddad told TechCrunch in an email that the company has already pulled the Mac client from the App Store and the iOS app will follow soon.
Despite Twitter’s announcement, some Twitter clients are still working, but it’s probably only a matter of time before the company suspends them.
While Twitter has not provided an explanation for this move, it could be to exert control over users and force it to use its own customers.
External customers have added so much to Twitter as a platform. Tweetie, an app that Twitter acquired in 2010, was lagging behind the pull to refresh the timeline feature which everyone knows. Twitterrific has contributed to things like the bird logo, the number of characters and conversations (answers). It’s sad to see that Musk & co. developers who give users the opportunity to experience the platform in different ways.
Twitter’s bad blood with developers
Twitter has a long history of ignoring developers who contribute to the ecosystem. The company started restricting third-party Twitter clients in 2012. Two years later, it restricted access to its firehose data by terminating agreements with partners.
One of the classic examples of Twitter ignoring non-native customers is Tweetdeck, a company it acquired in 2011. The company shut down Tweetdeck for Mac last year and has been testing a new web version with a select few users. But given how Musk has handled the company, there’s not much hope for a full release.
In recent years, the social media company has begun to rebuild trust among developers. In 2020, it launched a new API with multiple levels of access to accommodate many developer use cases. In 2022, it launched Twitter Toolbox, a way to showcase and promote third-party apps. In an interview with TechCrunch, Amir Shevat, who was the head of developer platforms at Twitter at the time, also said that the company is building an app store of sorts.
But that all came crashing down after Musk took over the company. Twitter Toolbox and many other developer projects are no longer going ahead.
Last month, Shevat (who is no longer with the company) wrote in a column for TechCrunch that Twitter’s new management has betrayed developer trust. He also criticized the way the company is now communicating with developers.
The way forward
Developers are heartbroken by this move as the pro and premium subscription to their apps added to their income, and now it’s suddenly gone. Some have already started other projects. Tweetbot creator Tapbots is building a Mastadon client called ivory and wants to release it soon. Fenix developer Matteo Villa has also released a test version of its Mastadon app called Wooly.
Twitter’s move could throw off other developers who create tools for the platform. In December, composer apps like Typefully and Chir App told TechCrunch that, while cautious, they want to continue developing for Twitter. Content moderation tool Bodyguard also noted that it wanted to scale back Twitter-related development. With the final step of leaving external customers high and dry, other developers can pull back their projects around Twitter.
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