Twitter to developers: Stop copying official apps

Twitter will no longer tolerate third-party apps that mimic official ones, in the clearest sign yet the social networking site is taking firm control of its platform.

In a Google Groups post spotted by various media outlets, Twitter's Ryan Sarver explained that a consistent user experience was ''more crucial than ever'', with the company's commitment to that idea evidenced by the company's April 2010 purchase of Tweetie and subsequent release of the official Twitter iOS app.

While ''the top five ways'' people access Twitter are via official apps or sites, users are still being confused by the variety of third-party portals to the site, Mr Sarver said.

''For example, people get confused by websites or clients that display tweets in a way that doesn’t follow our design guidelines, or when services put their own verbs on tweets instead of the ones used on Twitter.  Similarly, a number of third-party consumer clients use their own versions of suggested users, trends, and other data streams, confusing users in our network even more,'' he said.

The risk, he said, is ''diffusing'' the user experience, before making passing reference to last month's suspension of third-party clients TweetDeck, Twidroyd, UberTwitter and UberCurrent for breaking platform rules.

''We need to ensure that tweets, and tweet actions, are rendered in a consistent way so that people have the same experience with tweets no matter where they are,'' he said.

To that end, Mr Sarver explained that new third-party clients that mimic the official Twitter experience are no longer acceptable.

''Developers have told us that they’d like more guidance from us about the best opportunities to build on Twitter.  More specifically, developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.  The answer is no,'' he said.

While existing third-party apps won't be shut down, Twitter will be holding them to ''high standards'' when it comes to user privacy, consistent user experience, and the site's Terms of Service.

Mr Sarver said apps that build outside the main Twitter experience would be encouraged, and the company was keen to work with a growing developer community.

''A lot of Twitter’s success is attributable to a diverse ecosystem of more than 750,000 registered apps.  We will continue to support this innovation.  We are excited to be working with our developer community to create a consistent and innovative experience for the many millions of users who have come to depend on Twitter every day,'' he said.

As Business Insider's Dan Frommer writes, following the lead of Facebook in clamping down on the third-party ecosystem is likely a smart move, and will ensure the micro-messaging service can spread throughout the web while still ensuring the same user experience, in a similar way to Facebook Connect.

Image Credit: Marcos Xotoko

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16 Comments

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Might be the right time to do it, now that Twitter isn't going away. Now the question is whether customers will embrace their "experience". Since there will be no alternative, those who don't for whatever reasons will have no other option but to leave. That said, I don't think most users will care about this at all.

The only thing I want them to do, is make the Twitter for Mac client available on Windows. Same design, same usability.

only apps or lookalike sites I've used is ones that allow me to check the RSS feeds that twitter has made almost impossible to find unless you switch to the old site for a moment and subscribe there then go back to the new site.

Good.
When there is an official app supported, updated and maintained by the guys who run the site then I don't see why anyone would want to make another one anyway. I mean, I'd rather use an official app than one that some cowboy has made.

Mr Spoon said,
Good.
When there is an official app supported, updated and maintained by the guys who run the site then I don't see why anyone would want to make another one anyway. I mean, I'd rather use an official app than one that some cowboy has made.

Because the official app sucks with the new spam... errr trend bar?!

Mr Spoon said,
Good.
When there is an official app supported, updated and maintained by the guys who run the site then I don't see why anyone would want to make another one anyway. I mean, I'd rather use an official app than one that some cowboy has made.

Really? There are plenty of reasons to use the 3rd party apps, as many times they offer a better user experience than the official twitter app. Twitter was late to getting its own app out there, and as long as can be remembered most of the mobile usage has been through third party apps. Now twitter has an app, but it is inferior to what is already out there.

Mr Spoon said,
Good.
When there is an official app supported, updated and maintained by the guys who run the site then I don't see why anyone would want to make another one anyway. I mean, I'd rather use an official app than one that some cowboy has made.

A lot of the unofficial apps are far better than the official ones

Mr Spoon said,
Good.
When there is an official app supported, updated and maintained by the guys who run the site then I don't see why anyone would want to make another one anyway. I mean, I'd rather use an official app than one that some cowboy has made.

Clearly you know absolutely nothing about Twitter. A year ago Twitter purchased Tweetie and rebranded Tweetie to Twitter. Why? Twitter had no app.

Third party apps exist in many instances BECAUSE the official App is no good (and / or offers added functionality), or, in the case of Twitter - they simply didn't have one.

This whole article is confusing... They don't want apps to work like twitter but they want you to be consistent with twitters ux guidelines... I am so confused... WHAT THE HELL DOES TWITTER WANT FOR THEM TO DO?!

Maybe I read it wrong. I think i just reached the point where I don't care anymore... If you can explain what the hell is going on please do so...

Matt A. Tobin said,
This whole article is confusing... They don't want apps to work like twitter but they want you to be consistent with twitters ux guidelines... I am so confused... WHAT THE HELL DOES TWITTER WANT FOR THEM TO DO?!

Maybe I read it wrong. I think i just reached the point where I don't care anymore... If you can explain what the hell is going on please do so...

...the same thing that developers do for Facebook I'm guessing. Implement it in other apps, for example an app that tweets how many miles you jogged on your daily jog.

I don't really use Twitter at all, and I was honestly confused when I searched for an Android app and tons of different Twitter apps came up. I didn't know which one to use. Unlike Facebook which has its own official app.

MidTxWRX said,

I don't really use Twitter at all, and I was honestly confused when I searched for an Android app and tons of different Twitter apps came up. I didn't know which one to use. Unlike Facebook which has its own official app.

If you search Android Market for "Twitter", its the first result - Twitter, by Twitter Inc. Not that hard to find really!

thommcg said,

If you search Android Market for "Twitter", its the first result - Twitter, by Twitter Inc. Not that hard to find really!

I guess I was talking about back before they had bought that other company out.

Hell with them all. Someone just needs to make their own twitter. There is always room for competition. How many burger joints are there? How many car manufacturers are there? Make a competitive concept and steal their customers.

So basically they're not allowing third parties to develop software that duplicates the functionality of official applications under the guise of "consistency" and "avoiding confusion"... Reminds me of Apple's App Store...

Joey H said,
So basically they're not allowing third parties to develop software that duplicates the functionality of official applications under the guise of "consistency" and "avoiding confusion"... Reminds me of Apple's App Store...
According to apple, you just said "Apple's Apple Store.. lol.

Joey H said,
So basically they're not allowing third parties to develop software that duplicates the functionality of official applications under the guise of "consistency" and "avoiding confusion"... Reminds me of Apple's App Store...

Keep reading the article past the first few paragraphs. There are some good examples of why the third party service is creating a rift in the user base. It makes sense that twitter wants to keep a consistent and straight forward approach to their messages.