Twitter has finally implemented a new change that essentially "breaks" many popular third-party Twitter apps.
Following years of notices to third-party app developers, Twitter has just broken key features in their Twitter clients, effectively making them inadequate compared to its own native apps. In a blog post, Twitter confirmed it's removing access to APIs that are required for those clients to push notifications or auto-refresh the timeline. Here's what you need to know about the change and who it affects.
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Why Twitter 'broke' some third-party apps
Because Twitter is ending support for certain APIs, core features in third-party Twitter clients will no longer work. But Rob Johnson, a director of product, has explained in a blog post that Twitter is not setting out to kill those apps. Here's what he wrote, specifically:
"It is now time to make the hard decision to end support for these legacy APIs - acknowledging that some aspects of these apps would be degraded as a result. Today, we are facing technical and business constraints we can’t ignore... [The APIs] that serve core functions of many of these clients have been in a 'beta' state for more than 9 years, and are built on a technology stack we no longer support. We’re not changing our rules, or setting out to 'kill' 3rd party clients; but we are killing, out of operational necessity, some of the legacy APIs that power some features of those clients."
In other words, Twitter is making this change so it can focus all its efforts on Twitter-owned apps. However, keep in mind, many newer Twitter features, such as polls, bookmarks, and Periscopes, never came to third-party clients, because Twitter didn't include them in its APIs.
I shared the following message with our Twitter team this morning pic.twitter.com/PTStPrUTsx— Rob Johnson (@robjohnson) August 16, 2018
Who will this change affect?
Popular third-party Twitter apps - including Tweetbot, Twitterrific, Talon, and Tweetings - and their users will be directly affected by this change. These non-Twitter-owned clients won't be able to have automatic tweet streaming, also known as real-time updates, and developers of those apps will need to update their codes. Some clients, like Tweetbot, won't be able to offer Apple Watch apps either.
Push notifications for likes, follows, and quotes will also be unavailable, though mentions and DM notifications were already delayed by a couple minutes. These are essential Twitter features, and it seems unlikely people will want to use apps without them. It's unfortunate for their developers, because, as Johnson confirmed, third-party apps invented many features that Twitter later copied in its native apps:
"[Third-party] clients have had a notable impact on the Twitter service and the products we build. Independent developers built the first Twitter client for Mac and the first native app for iPhone. These clients pioneered product features we all know and love about Twitter, like mute, the pull-to-refresh gesture, and more."
When will Twitter end support?
Twitter first announced this was coming in April, and said we could expect it to happen on 18 June. After receiving many complaints from developers, it delayed the shutdown so they would have more time to update their app codes. Now, Twitter has finally ended support.
Today, our User Streams, Site Streams, and legacy Direct Message endpoints will begin a brief period of degraded service before being retired entirely.— Twitter API (@TwitterAPI) August 16, 2018
Developers using these services can learn more and find migration guides on the forum: https://t.co/hedzTXO6as