There are a huge range of Twitter clients out there offering alternative ways to access Twitter. For many users, these provide a better experience. They provide a level of functionality that Twitter’s own suite of applications don’t. However, Twitter has revealed that this August it will be bringing in new restrictions and limitations on how these applications are built. Of course, for Twitter these restrictions aren’t restrictions as such; it’s actually a new developer API called ‘Account Activity API’. The reason for the change is that it will give Twitter more power and control over what developers build – it also allows them to monetize the developer API in a different way too.
This is undoubtedly going to make applications like Twitterific significantly worse. For Twitter, that might make some sense. It goes without saying that the platform would prefer users to use its own applications to access the service. But for developers and users of these applications, it might make life a little more difficult.
What restrictions will third party Twitter clients face?
Twitter will be changing the way developers of third party Twitter clients access Twitter. Back in April, Twitter explained the changes it planned to make to it’s developer API in a Twitter thread:
Last year we announced our plan to retire Site Streams & User Streams, and replace them with the Account Activity API (currently in beta). We are delaying the scheduled June 19th deprecation date.
— Twitter Dev (@TwitterDev) April 6, 2018
Because of the delay, the date that this change will come into effect is now August 16 2018. Essentially, on that date Twitter will turn off a number of legacy services including Site Streams and User Streams. Developers will then have to migrate to the new Account Activity API.
Learn more about migrating to Account Activity API here.
What impact will Twitter’s change have?
As already mentioned, this is going to have a big impact on the way developers build third party Twitter clients. The knock-on effect on users will be substantial. Essentially the ‘real-time’ experience of Twitter that you get in Twitter’s own applications will be missing. Users will have to refresh their Twitter feed; push notifications are unlikely to work, and Direct Messages may be hampered too, especially on mobile.
A lot of people are very unhappy about the changes Twitter is making. On Twitter the response was incredibly negative:
It shouldn’t be delayed, it should be rescinded. 90% of my tweets come from @tweetbot or a third party when on Android. @TwitterDev please don’t force us to go to a timeline full of ads and un-sequential tweets #BreakingMyTwitter https://t.co/9HpCJPAHeO
— Chad Elliott (@objectivechad) April 6, 2018
if you really want all thirdparty apps gone, at least provide an option to disable the random ordered timeline bug.
— A.I. (@merrickluo) April 8, 2018
— ⒹⒶⓃ ⒹⓊⒾⓋⒺⓁ (@DanDuivel) April 8, 2018
However, there was some support, or awareness for the change when it was announced…
So you’re confused about why a company that gets money from ads won’t support your fav ad-free client?
— Tristan Harward (@trisweb) April 11, 2018
Of course, this is one step in Twitter trying to give itself a boost – the company has been struggling for some time.
However, you do wonder how successful this change will be for Twitter. Although the premium Account Activity API costs around $11.60 a month, this is only open to applications with less than 250 users. Clearly, this isn’t going to be feasible for many of the leading Twitter clients with thousands of users.