Twitter is giving its TweetDeck social media dashboard app an update that includes a new look as well as other design enhancements and user features.
Visually, TweetDeck’s dark background has been made clearer while still maintaining what Twitter calls the “classic TweetDeck look.” A new color scheme features dark text and a light background, and users can also pick from a variety of display themes and fonts.
Since its December 2011 launch of a new TweetDeck framework, which Twitter says eases the development of new features and the integration of user feedback, the company has also rolled out a number of upgrades that go beyond look and feel.These include a new column navigator and trackpad scrolling, the ability to directly manage lists from the app, a profile redesign that allows header photos, an indicator when users gain followers, support for the Firefox and Opera web browsers and beefed-up discovery and engagement capabilities.
User Reaction Split
The Los Angeles Times says the TweetDeck redesign makes the app “more closely resembl(e) the rest of the microblogging service.”
So far, the Times says user reaction as measured by tweets is split 50-50. Sample tweets published by the Times include “wow the new tweetdeck sucks i hate change i'm going home,” and the more positive “Really liking the new Tweetdeck update! Looks sharp."
Twitter Updates API
TweetDeck upgrades are not the only recent changes Twitter has been making. Last month, Twitter officially released version 1.1 of its API. The updated API has stricter authentication policies and developer rules of the road, among other new features.
In version 1.1, Twitter is requiring applications to authenticate all of their requests with the API. Twitter says this step will prevent abusive behavior and help it to further understand how categories of applications are using the API so it can better meet the needs of developers.
At this time, all authentication requires user context, but in the coming weeks Twitter says it will release support for a form of authentication not requiring it.
Twitter also updated its developer rules of the road, placing regulations against activities such as publishing private user information, resyndicating data and performing “surprise” actions not initiated by users. And all applications replicating the core Twitter experience (usually called "clients") will have some new restrictions placed on them, including a 100,000-user token limit.
There are also new display requirements (which were previously just suggested guidelines), dictating things like display of the tweet author avatar and how text is displayed. Other changes include support for JSON only -- discontinuing support for XML, Atom and RSS, which Twitter says are “infrequently” used.
Rate limits in version 1.1 of the API are divided into 15-minute intervals, which is a change from the 60-minute blocks in version 1.0. Additionally, all 1.1 endpoints require authentication, so there will no longer be a concept of unauthenticated calls and rate limits. Search will be rate limited at 180 queries per 15 minute window for the time being, but Twitter says it may adjust that over time. According to Twitter, developers will “now be able to query the API on a per endpoint basis a lot more than (they) previously could.”
Twitter Eyes Apps
Twitter appears to be pursuing a policy of making the user experience more convenient and rich through the development of in-house and third-party apps.
In addition to ongoing development of TweetDeck, in July 2012, Twitter selected Acquia Drupal to be the home of its new Developer community. The new site will help app creators find more relevant content and advice, either in the guides, discussion forums or the developer's blog. With its REST and streaming APIs, Twitter developers can have access to both historical and live Twitter data, and bend and shape it into the desired form -- be it for statistical analysis or finding the right "influencers" to promote a product.
In May 2012, Twitter purchased RestEngine, a provider of technology that enables social app publishers to send individually-targeted emails to subscribers based on their usage history. In a statement released at the time, RestEngine said it was “joining the Twitter flock” and “defin(ing) a new set of best practices for this brand new world of outbound social marketing.” The purchase agreement includes RestEngine’s technology, as well as three of the company's four co-founders going to work for Twitter.
Twitter’s popularity is growing, but there are obvious limitations to a basic microblogging platform that allows 140-character postings. By purchasing and developing apps, as well as enabling the development of third-party apps, Twitter is expanding its functionality and setting the stage for further growth and increased competition with more feature-rich social media platforms such as Facebook.
The TweetDeck app is available on all of Twitter’s supported platforms -- Web, Chrome, Mac and Windows. The update is live now on web.tweetdeck.com. Windows app users can restart to trigger an auto-update, while Chrome users should restart Chrome to update the app. The updated Mac app is available now in the Mac App Store.