Thursday, December 12, 2013

Twitter direct messages get a dedicated button in new app update

Twitter has updated its mobile apps for iOS and Android with better swiping features and embedded photos in direct messages.

Twitter has released a new update to its official app for the iOS and Android platforms, and this update seems to be in line with Twitter’s strategy to build on the social network’s focus on being a communications platform. The latest updates for Twitter for Android and Twitter for Android include the following:

  • Swipe across Home and Discover timelines. This feature makes it easier for users to discover trending and popular tweets, including recommendations for users to follow. The Home timeline shows popular accounts and Tweets from one’s followed users.

  • Improved notifications. On Twitter for iOS, in-app notifications alert users of direct messages, favorited tweets, retweets and replies. On Android, mobile notifications can also be set for select users by “starring” their profiles.

  • Prominent DM placement. The direct messaging feature was previously buried under the “Me” tab, but now it has a more prominent placement on the Twitter interface. DM now has its own item on the menu tab.

  • Photos on DMs. Previously, direct messages were text-only, but this update supports photo attachments. Attached photos are embedded straight into the DM feed, similar to the main Twitter timeline.

This update underscores a couple of things that Twitter wants to focus on moving forward. First, there was speculation earlier that Twitter might want to jump onto the instant messaging bandwagon. While Twitter is all about exchanging messages, the focus has mostly been on public posts. The extremes here would be for Twitter to either spin off its direct messaging feature into a standalone app (similar to how Facebook spun off Messenger), or acquire an existing mobile messaging app (MessageMe was rumored to be in talks).

However, the middle-ground would be what Twitter had just done: place DMs in a more prominent place in the mobile UI. Rather than bury DMs under two layers of menus (“Me” and then the “envelope” icon), making them difficult to access, placing a DM button straight on the menu would encourage people to exchange messages using the platform. The ability to add photos is just icing on the cake.

Secondly, the new notification system is geared toward encouraging users to engage. Twitter wants to shake off the perception that the platform is mostly used as a feed reader, primarily for news discovery. Twitter wants users to talk back and be part of the discussion.

Engagement — whether in private messages or as part of public exchange of replies — might just be what Twitter needs to accelerate growth and sustain its active user base. Post IPO, Twitter will want to ensure it keeps traction and that it can compete against the multitude of mobile chat platforms that are increasingly popular and sticky across all kinds of audiences.

Source: Twitter,*TechCrunch

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