Twitter wants to win developer panties back – TechCrunch

Twitter has a novel idea for how to regain developer trust: It will allow them to build on the platform itself and then promote their tools and services directly to users on Twitter at important times.

The company is today launching an experiment that could be one of the more significant efforts in recent years – in addition to the launch of the rebuilt Twitter API, of course – with the aim of demonstrating its intention to collaborate with developers and be more responsive to their needs. With the new test, Twitter says it will promote select developers’ apps directly on its platform the moment they can be useful to the end user.

The experiment starts small by highlighting apps from Twitter’s recently launched “Twitter Toolbox ”collection of ready-made services, specifically in developer-built security tools, including Block Party, Bodyguard and Moderate. The beta test is only displayed to select users.

When Twitter users block or mute someone using Twitter’s built-in tools via the web app, they’ll see a new, unobtrusive prompt suggesting various third-party services that are capable of providing more advanced levels of security and protection.

Twitter first introduced that Twitter Toolbox In february.

Currently, the Toolbox is an online hub with ready-to-use, self-service apps and services built by Twitter’s developer community and targeted at the general public. In addition to the trio of security tools, the toolbox today includes scheduling apps Chirr App and Buffer; the Wireless Reader app; and measurement tools ilo,, Direcon Inc., Followerwonk and Tweepsmap.

Twitter says the idea to show Toolbox apps on its platform came from its discussions with the developer community. Developers told the company that they wanted to improve the user experience on Twitter, and more critically, they wanted distribution so people were aware of their product.

“This is the first step in working with developers to actually enable these needs,” explains Amir Shevat, Twitter’s product manager for its developer platform, who joined the company through their 2021 Reshuffle acquisition after filling similar roles at Twitch. Slack, Google and Microsoft.

“[Developers] “We want users, and we want to give them the right users at the right time – providing value both to Twitter users who currently need these developer innovations, and providing distribution to these developers,” he says.

Image credit: Twitter

By only displaying the messages when the user’s intent is strongest – when the user is already blocking or ignoring an account, in this case – Twitter expects users to show an increased willingness to interact with developers’ apps. For a developer like Block Party, who currently gets users through word-of-mouth recommendations, the ability to acquire users on Twitter itself can be very significant to his business.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to get ahead of users who really want to benefit from what we do,” said Block Party founder and CEO Tracy Chou. “In this way, we get much more directly in front of the people who want this kind of tool.”

Bodyguard founder and CEO Charles Cohen already expects his business to grow significantly with the result of the new test.

“We currently estimate that 25% of users who install Bodyguard come from the Twitter Toolbox site, and we expect that number to increase to 50% within the next few days,” he says. “We are also excited about this new experiment that will bring Bodyguard to Twitter users who need instant, free, real-time, customizable, and high-quality protection against toxic content directed at them on their social media.”

Twitter’s olive branch for developers

Although Twitter has been operating in a more open capacity with its developer community for several years, it still has a lot of history to overcome in order to fully reset its developer relationships. And it will not be a small effort to repair its reputation.

In previous years, Twitter’s attitude toward developers was disorganized and constantly changing. It hosted its first developer conference, Chirp, in 2010, and set an expectation that it would continue to engage directly with those building with its API and developer tools in the years to come. The following year, the event was canceled and it did not return.

In 2012, Twitter pulled the rug under the feet of developers who had built third-party Twitter clients, and a few years later, it shot its own partners who had agreements to resell Twitter’s fire hose data – the unfiltered, full stream of tweets and their metadata – after its acquisition in 2014 of its partner competitor Gnip.

And, as some have suggested, Twitter was not always honest about the reasons behind their API changes. A recent Twitter thread by former Twitter contributor Evan Henshaw-Plath (@rabel) explains that Twitter’s decision to restrict third-party clients was in fact due to a competitive threat from UberMedia, which had acquired customers with the goal of moving users over to its own microblogging service.

Henshaw-Plath lamented: “Twitter thought the open ecosystem would be captured, so they shut down the ecosystem to save the business. I wish they had partnered with app developers, [been] honest about the attack on the company… ”

Today, Twitter is trying to do just that.

“I think we need to gain trust. And I think we need to be transparent. I think we have to build outdoors, ”says Shevat.

Today, Twitter wants to collaborate with developers and build the tools they need to be successful, he explains.

With the rebuilt API, for example, the company focused on including features that were missing from previous versions – such as conversation threads, poll results, pinned tweets, spam filtering, stream filtering and more. It also opened its platformreduced the onboarding burden, added more free access and removed some of its previous policy restrictions (including those affecting third-party apps).

In November 2021, the company said that 90% of all existing apps built on API v1.1 could be fully supported on v2, while having access to the most important new features.

“Twitter’s API v2 has shown a real listen to developers’ needs and feedback, and all of this is going in the right direction,” says Cohen.

And Chou agrees. … It seems that there has been a change from the early more chaotic days, where it seems that people on Twitter now really see the value of having this developer ecosystem and really want to invest in it – because they see that it’s a good thing for their users to have more of these options, around things like moderation and security. “

But collaboration and communication are only part of serving the developer community. Helping apps be discovered and generating revenue are also critical factors.

“As we have more surfaces on Twitter, we want to create better ways to discover [developers’ apps]”Developers, in order to be successful on the platform, need engagement surfaces … they need to be discovered, which is what we’re trying to do with the next few experiments,” he adds. “And they need for the ability to succeed financially with their innovation. “

This strategy is not only good for developers, it is also good for end users who benefit from access to these third-party tools and services, he notes.

“This is basically the underlying assumption behind the things we’re launching,” says Shevat.

Another factor driving this strategy is that Twitter is beginning to understand that it can not build everything its users need, even with its increasing pace of product development.

Meanwhile, its decentralization efforts through the BlueSky project will only create greater demand for developer-led innovations. To highlight a current example, there is a growing demand for algorithm selection and custom levels for content filtering or moderation. Elon Musk’s bid on Twitter is partly about wanting a different set of moderation rules.

Apps like Block Party that filter out unwanted mentions and block trolls could ultimately help with some of these issues.

“One way of thinking about Block Party is that it’s a different algorithm for what you want to look at in terms of notifications and when people tag you,” Chou explains.

“The default algorithm is that every time someone tags you, you see a mention. The new algorithm, with something like Block Party installed – even if users do not think of it as if I choose my own algorithm – is a different experience. Just because someone “attacking me does not mean I have to see it right away,” she says. “I can choose not to see it. So now there is another algorithm that controls the experience of mentions.”

While Block Party’s focus is on filtering reviews, there are other areas throughout Twitter’s product where users might want to customize their experience more instead of going with the platform’s standard.

Such an area involves creators. Shevat points out that the new API added endpoints to Twitter’s Super Follow creator subscription product, which allows users to subscribe to favorite accounts through in-app purchases to receive exclusive content. With the API, a developer could create a Super Follows app that serves different sets of content to followers versus subscribers. Or it could filter the end-user experience to focus on the paid content from the user’s Super Follow subscriptions.

Such an app could be promoted on Twitter when the user interacts with a Super Follow creator or subscribes for the first time. He also imagines how developers could build within Twitter Spaces – imagine Wordle in Spaces, he suggests – or even promote their apps on the Twitter timeline. If someone posts a link to a song, you might be able to play it with your favorite streaming app.

It’s also easy to imagine that the other Twitter Toolbox apps are similarly promoted in different places on Twitter’s platform – like when users, for example, look for a way to batch post tweets or check their analytics.

“I’ve thinking of Twitter right now as the old Nokia phone… it was a good phone. But the only app on it was Snake, if you remember,” says Shevat. I see the future of Twitter as an iPhone where the value, you get, in fact, is through developer innovation. “

Twitter’s own “app store”

Shevat notes that there is now a dedicated team focusing on solving the app discovery issue specifically with solutions like Toolbox and this latest Twitter test. Along the way, apps and services could become more deeply integrated with the Twitter platform, like Twitter in December added OAuth 2.0 supportwhich he describes as a first step into a much tighter and hassle-free integration in the future between Twitter and the apps it contains.

Other models could also be considered – like a Twitter “app store.”

“I can certainly see it as one of the possibilities for our future,” Shevat says when asked about this possibility. “From my experience as a pure product person, I would like to experiment to see where the best way is because … the world is full of successful marketplaces, but it is also full of cemeteries with old marketplaces that no one wants to go to, “he continues.

“So I need to make sure users find value – maybe I can just show it in the product instead of a separate marketplace. Maybe I can create a section within the product that makes developer innovation visible.”

“But we will definitely solve the problem of discovery,” he says.