Social network Twitter is changing how content is streamed to mobile users in order to improve the search and discovery experience for them. Upgrades to the Twitter iOS and Android apps and mobile.twitter.com site provide a single stream of blended content results.
As a result, mobile Twitter users will see all types of Twitter content — such as tweets, photos and related searches, in one unified search results stream. Similarly, all Discover content — such as tweets and trends, will also appear in a single stream. Previously, mobile Twitter users had results divided into multiple streams for each type of content.
A post on the Twitter engineering blog breaks down how the new mobile search results are generated. In summary, while a typical search scores content of a similar type, the new blended Twitter mobile search performs separate searches for separate types of content and creates curated results sequences that each receive their own type-specific score.
These multiple scores are then converted into a “uni-score” using a type-specific log-linear score conversion function. Twitter also factors in content’s “burstiness” (unusual spikes in query volume) to help filter out irrelevant content or boost the score of highly relevant content.
Other features of Twitter’s new mobile content streaming process include:
- Access to activity and trends from previews at the top of the Discover tab.
- A new search button for Twitter for iPhone.
- A default view of interactions in the Connect tab (“mentions only” option available).
- Direct linking from URLs in tweets.
Twitter Standardizes Mobile Web Experience
Twitter has been tweaking its mobile web experience for a while. Last May, Twitter updated its mobile web interface so that users who connect to the social network via feature phones or other "older" mobile devices can have access to the new version of Twitter which was released in December 2011.
Twitter says the new mobile.twitter.com site works at the same speed as the native mobile Twitter apps developed for iPhone and Android, and that it uses one-third less bandwidth than the previous version. Obviously Twitter see mobile as a major access point and more Twitter mobile improvements and adjustments should be expected.
Twitter Reaches toward Search Ambitions
Twitter users generate an enormous amount of data that if mined properly can provide a great deal of valuable information, especially for anyone who wants to see how popular or noteworthy a particular topic was at a particular time. As reported by GigaOm in June 2012, “it has been fairly obvious… that search-driven, URL-centric web would converge with the web of social objects.”
According to GigaOm, this convergence is “driving Google’s paranoia” and is also the stuff of “Facebook’s dreams,” but Twitter is most likely to obtain value from it. “Twitter has been slowly transforming itself into a post-Google information company,” states the article, mentioning a number of high-profile search expert hirings the company had recently made at that time. The article also cited the Discover function as the key to Twitter realizing its search ambitions.
Considering that mobile is widely viewed as the web platform of the future, Twitter appears to be taking one step closer to becoming a search provider.