Twitter is dead. Long live, Twitter!
The Internet’s most popular microblogging service got a major upgrade today, rolling out a brand-new look and a bunch of new features. The update is the most comprehensive and wide-ranging change Twitter’s ever done, revamping its website, its apps for both iOS and Android, and even its recently acquired social-media integrator, TweetDeck. Here’s a closer look at what Twitter’s done and why.
When you visit the new Twitter, you can quickly see the site’s been reorganized in some key ways. Everything fits into one of four labels:
Home: This is your old news feed, only better. Whereas before media in tweets like photos and videos was viewable on the side, now you can see them right in the tweet (you still need to click). You’ll also be able to see information about @replies and retweets for a particular tweet by selecting “Open,” a new option. Twitter says your feed will now appear “consistently” across platforms. which apparently was a problem before.
Connect: This is where all your @replies and mentions will be. Not a lot new here, but Twitter says you can type in someone’s handle will let you learn more about the person and connect instantly.
Discover: Twitter appears to have supercharged its search functions and put the results here. More than just a place to look for trending topics and hashtags, Discover will identify stories and trends based on your connections, location and language.
Me: Here’s your Twitter profile, made bigger, neater and with more activity recorded. Your information now appears on the left instead of right.
Twitter’s mobile apps have been given the same four-column treatment, with streamlined interfaces and a new design. In a subtle change, the old pen icon for drafting a new tweet has been replaced with a quill.
On the back end, Twitter’s updated its API to allow embedded tweets (more on those in a bit) and some better interactions with various other apps and platforms, like WordPress (disclosure: WordPress is Mashable‘s content management system).
Why Twitter’s Doing It
Twitter says it wants to make its interface more inviting to new users, while giving existing users better functionality. But there’s no doubt that a large part of the change has to do with accommodating ways to drum up revenue. Twitter has recently been experimenting with ways to point users toward its advertising services, though it’s done so clumsily at times (case in point: the ill-fated “dickbar” on the iPhone, named after Twitter CEO Dick Costolo). The redesign brings with it opportunities to steer users toward sponsors, specifically through the new branded pages (see below).
We’ll have more information on this after we’ve had a chance to give all the new Twitter apps and the site a thorough hands-on, but on iPhone it appears users can no longer copy and paste from a tweet. Users no longer can translate tweets in other languages. Options to mail, repost, or save links to Instapaper appear to have been removed. And the redesign makes it less convenient to switch accounts.
An important difference on the Web interface: Profile names are now emphasized whereas the user’s “handle” was front and center before.
(Thanks to Mashable readers for pointing out many of these changes.)
If you have a website, you can now embed individual tweets on a page. It’s sort of like Storify, but just one tweet at a time. From the embed, you can retweet, reply or favorite the tweet, and you can follow the user as well — all without leaving the page. Links and other dynamic content remain active.
You can see the option to embed a tweet on any tweet’s “permalink” page, accessible via the new Open button. Importantly, tweets that are on private accounts won’t give you the option. Twitter told Mashable. For more on embedded tweets, check out our hands on.
Twitter also improved its buttons that appear on many websites. Now a Tweet button can include a specific hashtag or @mention, an easier way for sites to get their readers tweeting to specific people and about specific things.
Just like Facebook and Google+, Twitter now has brand pages for companies. Although many, if not most, companies already had their own Twitter accounts, brand pages allow for more functionality and interactions with followers.
A report in Advertising Age says brands will be able to customize the page with large logos and extended taglines. They’ll also be able to promote tweets in the timeline on their own pages, letting them highlight their best content. Brand pages don’t cost anything, and they’re available to companies large and small.
According to a poll of Mashable readers, many users (almost 41% of respondents) love the new changes, saying that the site is “easier to use,” “fantastic” and “pretty kewl.” Some have risen concerns about the features missing in iOS and the necessity of the change, however.
On Twitter itself, the overall response appears to be positive, with many users reacting with enthusiasm. Most of the negative reactions have to do with mobile, with a few also complaining about the usefulness of “Discover.”
In contrast to some of its earlier moves this year, Twitter appears to have handled its platform-wide revamp deftly, and the majority of is users are pleased. If it can work out some issues on the mobile side, it may have scored a home run. But the real question will be if the new Twitter can actually serve the company in the area that matters most to all companies: making money.