Twitter recently celebrated its 8th birthday and with that we have witnessed a sprout of new features. Some of the features have been officially confirmed and for the rest the 140-character network has left us to do the word of mouth. Listed below are nine such experiments that Twitter has recently launched or is working on at the moment.
1. Twitter experimenting to remove @ replies and hashtags
This wasn’t a great news for old time Twitter lovers. The 140 character platform is experimenting with a new version of its Android app that removes @ replies entirely.
Vivian Schiller, head of news at Twitter, gave a hint of this development while addressing a crowd recently at the Newspaper Association of America’s mediaXchange conference in Denver. During her talk, Schiller called at-replies and hashtags “arcane” and hinted that Twitter might soon move them into the background of the service.
Meanwhile changes are already taking place; the below screen shot reflects the change where a conversation is happening without the @ symbol, something similar to what we see in Facebook and Google Plus.
2. Twitter experimenting one-tap video
Across its iOS and Android apps, Twitter is testing a new video experience that allows users to play clips with a single tap and see preview thumbnails in the timeline. Tap once and the video will begin automatically, with a pre-roll if necessary and a cross for dismissing the video in the top-right hand corner. A secondary tap will reveal some basic playback controls at the bottom of the screen.
3. Twitter experimenting with mobile-only signups
Twitter gained just 9 million monthly active users in the fourth quarter of 2013, but its active user base grew 30 percent year-over-year growth to 241 million. This indicates user growth sloped off during the period.
— TwitterIR (@TwitterIR) February 5, 2014
To improve this Twitter’s on-boarding an experience by focusing on “native mobile signups.”
Twitter is believed to be experimenting in New Zealand; users have reported being completely unable to sign up for Twitter on the Web. The site instead redirects to a page that instructs users to “go get the app” to start using Twitter. The experiment appears to be region-targeted.
By doing so Twitter is following the route of messaging apps like WhatsApp, WeChat and will take over your contacts. With the world going mobile, it looks like a required move and one that will also make finding friends simpler for Twitter on mobile than on web.
4. Twitter experiments with reply and favourite counts
In an interesting move, Twitter has also been experimenting with adding the number of views a tweet has received underneath every post.
The below screen grab shows the probable roll out. For now Twitter is testing the new feature in its iOS app.
However, there has been no word from the social giant on when the tweet view counts feature will be officially rolled out.
5. Twitter experiments with commerce
Twitter wants you to do more than just having a conversation. In the first week of February, it was revealed that Twitter is working to unveil a commerce product to its microblogging platform. It was revealed that it partnered with Stripe to manage the back-end technology and that a partnership has been formed with Fancy.com.
It appears that commerce-specific tweets will appear in timelines like Promoted Tweets and labeled accordingly, so as to avoid any confusion. When viewing the specific tweet in detail, there will be a larger image and an action button.
If believed, the files also show that Twitter will offer product recommendations as well. When ordered, users can track their purchased items on a map within Twitter and also receive certain items in the same day.
Twitter has maintained silence on the subject.
6. Twitter experimenting with share button
Twitter is also said to be experimenting with replacing the ReTweet button with a Share button. Witnessed earlier by CNBC’s Eli Langer who first noticed tweets from users affected by the changes with a resemblance of the share feature that was earlier adopted by Facebook.
The actual process of sharing a tweet remains unchanged, but those affected are being asked whether they want to ‘share’ or add comment and share. Here are two different designs users have shared:
7. Twitter experimenting to launch music again
Twitter recently announced the it would be shutting down its #Music app for iOS devices. The service helped listeners to discover which artists and tracks were currently popular on Twitter, and also listen to them through connected services such as Spotify.
Within a week of the announcement now Twitter and Billboard are set to launch a new chart that will rank which music is being shared and tweeted about the most in real-time.
It will be called the ‘Billboard Twitter Real-Time Charts’ and be available on Billboard.com. The leaderboard will rank the most popular tracks being talked about at any one time, as well as those that have remained popular over a longer period. Billboard and Twitter also want to use the chart to highlight “the most talked about and shared songs by new and upcoming acts”.
Billboard said the new music charts are part of an exclusive, multi-year partnership that it has signed with Twitter. They’ll be co-branded and also promoted through Billboard’s Twitter account throughout the week.
8. Twitter experiments with photo tagging and ability to add more photos
To boost more engagement on visuals, Twitter has recently announced two new mobile features for its Android and iOS apps: photo tagging and multiple photos in a tweet.
Photo Tagging feature allows you to tag up to 10 people in a photo. Best of all, tagging doesn’t affect character count in the tweet: regardless of how many people you tag, you still have all 140 characters at your disposal.
The second feature of multiple photos in a tweet allows you share up to four photos in an automatic collage. The ability to upload multiple photos has rolled out on iPhone, and is “coming soon” to Android and Twitter.com.
9. Twitter experimenting with similar web profile redesign on the web
The redesigned profile pages also have two new timeline options, titled photos and favorites. The former is a vertical feed displaying all of the embedded images that the user has tweeted previously; the latter is an archive of everything they’ve starred while browsing the social network.
The test appears to be a partial roll-out for now.
The recent changes that Twitter is experimenting with is to simplify the platform and there by increase its reach by attracting more users. It has been struggling to grow and it will have to, since it not only competes with Facebook but also with the fast-growing messaging apps of the world.