Last week, Twitter updated its developer terms to effectively ban any alternative Twitter client application. The company’s change came after many popular apps — including Twitterrific, Tweetbot, Echofone, and Fenix — were suspended without notice or explanation by the company’s development platform team.
The social media company had not been transparent about its decisions to shun outside customers, saying only that it enforced “long-standing” rules (which it subsequently had to hurry to document), which makes developers distrust the platform even more. While Twitter has had a rocky relationship with app developers for years, third-party customers have contributed to many critical features that are at the heart of Twitter’s current experience.
Below we have collected some examples of how the work of third-party apps became an integral part of the social network:
- The bird logo: Twitterrific, one of the first Twitter clients, started using a bird logo when it started and other clients followed suit a blog from one of the app’s co-creators, Ged Maheux. The bird became part of it The official logo of Twitter only in 2010.
- The word “tweet”: That’s right. The word tweet wasn’t really part of the company’s vocabulary to begin with. Another blog post from Maheux quotes one of Twitter founder Biz Stone’s emails to users using words like “Twitter-ers” and “Twitter.” In early January 2007, Twitterrific began using the term “Twit”. The post notes that one of the engineers who worked at Twitter suggested the name be changed from “Twit” to “Tweet”.
- Pull to refresh: Today, Twitter is hard to imagine without the pull-to-refresh button. However, Twitter did not have an app at the time. This feature is instead developed by an app called Tweetie created by developer Loren Brighter.
- iPhone app: Incidentally, Twitter acquired Tweetie in 2010 and then released it as a native official client. Twitterrific was the first company to release a native Twitter app on both iPhone and Mac.
- Swipe to action: This was also a Tweetie signature feature that was discontinued when Twitter acquired the company. When users swiped on a tweet, it revealed actions like reply, retweet, favorite, and share. Created the function it returned to the official Twitter app in 2012.
- Inline photos and videos: In the early days of Twitter, the social network allowed users to tweet links to photos and videos instead of displaying them directly on the timeline. Brizzly was one of the first Twitter clients to support in-line photo and video previews.
- Image hosting: Initially, Twitter had no solution for image hosting. In 2011, the company partnered with Photobucket to allow users to upload photos. Meanwhile, other services like Twitpic and Yfrog filled that gap for Twitter. In 2015, Twitter finally bought Twitpic hours before the photo sharing service shuts down.
- Edit tweet: While Twitter first introduced the tweet editing feature to Twitter Blue subscribers last year, third-party customers have tried several things to provide this feature. Twitterrific introduced an edit tweet feature in 2014 by deleting and reposting the tweet at the back. In 2020, Brizzly introduced a tweet editing feature by making a tweet local for a period of time and saving it before posting.
- Read thread: Twitter threads have become a popular tool for sharing stories in recent years. But it was a pain to read threads in the native app. To solve this problem, the company bought Threader and made it part of the Twitter Blue subscription.
- Curation: With Twitter’s layoffs last year, the company cut its curation team. Third-party apps can fill that gap if Twitter’s API allows it. Favster used to provide the best tweet tracking and Annoying composed intriguing lists to follow.
As the era of third-party apps comes to an end, some companies are publishing angry blogs or other praisesTwitter owner Elon Musk claims he now wants to make Twitter an “everything app” (aka a “super app”). for the company, which could hinder future developments.