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The third-party apps recently eliminated by Twitter made the site what it is today

The third-party apps recently eliminated by Twitter made the site what it is today

The age of great third-party Twitter clients may be over. When Twitter cut off its API access and changed its rules for bar apps competing with its own, The Iconfactory announced it was shutting down Twitter, removing Fenix from the App Store. Granted, and Tapbots posted a memorial for Tweetbot. It's a loss for everyone who used the apps and, almost certainly, a loss for Twitter as well.

As many have pointed out over the past week, third-party clients have helped make Twitter the platform it is today, reshaped parts of Twitter and helped build the company's identity in its early days. . They have also served as a safe haven from unwanted changes, allowing people to tweet when they are ready to leave the platform.

For example, the word I just used - tweeting. According to a blog post by Twitterific developer Craig Hockenberry, the idea that "tweets" would be what we call Twitter posts was previously supported by a third party app, not the company itself. It was suggested by Blaine Cook, a founding engineer at Twitter, who was beta testing The Iconfactory's third-party client, and quickly gained adoption there. It wasn't until at least a year later that Twitter actually started using the phrase as well. (Originally, Twitter preferred "Twittering," and Cook told The Verge in an email that "Tweet" wasn't officially adopted "until long after Craig & Co. adopted it at my suggestion.") Will go.") A bird logo was adopted.

Third-party apps have had a huge impact on how we use smartphone apps in general, not just Twitter. A client called Tweety is widely credited with inventing the pull-to-refresh interaction that has become nearly ubiquitous across iOS and Android for all types of refreshing feeds. Even if you haven't heard of Tweetie before, you might have used it; In 2010, Twitter acquired it and made it an official iPhone client. In 2015, the company also hired the developer of a separate third-party client to improve its Android app.

This isn't the only time Twitter acquired a popular third-party client outright. TweetDeck, the tool used in The Verge's newsroom to this day, was an independent app for years until the company bought it.

Third-party client users, who numbered in the hundreds of millions in 2018, often enjoyed features before the official app arrived. Echofon added the ability to mute unwanted users and hashtags in 2011, with the official version not found until 2014.

The app has also served as a safe haven from Twitter's changes; They didn't have the flood of recommended and out-of-order tweets like the official app, and they gave us the option of using the Twitter app for Mac after it officially shut down for a year. And, yes, people have used third-party clients to get an ad-free Twitter experience, not because they intentionally removed ads, but because Twitter didn't serve them via the API. (Side note: It's hard to believe that Twitter couldn't advertise alternative apps if it wanted or needed to.)

From time to time, Twitter has appropriately recognized the value added by outside developers. "Third-party clients have had a significant impact on the Twitter service and the products we build," said a 2018 memo from Rob Johnson, who was the company's developer platform lead at the time. "Independent developers created the first Twitter client for the Mac and the first native app for the iPhone. These clients introduced the product features we all know and love. And in a 2010 blog post, Twitter said that People used third-party clients were "some of the most active and frequent users", noting that "a disproportionate amount of traffic from Twitter goes through such tools".

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