Twitter is going to make third-party apps worse starting in August

For a long time, Twitter has had a strange disdain for third-party Twitter applications, but it has allowed many of them to go unnoticed in recent years. That's starting to change this summer, when Twitter will revoke a key access piece that developers currently have for the service, replacing it with a new access system that limits what they can do. The changes will not make third-party Twitter clients useless, but the applications will worsen.

The changes, that come into effect on August 16 do two main things: first, they prevent the new tweets from being transmitted to an application in real time; and second, they prevent and delay some push notifications. None of these will break Twitter applications completely, but they could be very annoying depending on how and where you use it.

The first change means the The Twitter timeline must be updated manually. That's not necessarily a big problem on mobile devices, since you're probably used to pulling to update the timeline anyway. Luke Klinker, the developer behind the Android Android client, Talon, said that only 2 to 3 percent of its users ever activated the automatic update function, or what is known as a transmission to Twitter clients, because it was a loss of battery. Craig Hockenberry, Iconfactory's senior engineer, who makes Twitterrific, said it would be a bigger problem in some scenarios, like when you're watching an event on TV. "Pulling to update in those cases works, but it's uncomfortable and feels" slow ", he writes in an email to The Verge.

On the desktop, the lack of transmission could be a bigger problem. Twitter applications can still request that their timeline be updated, but they can only do so often. If you are the kind of person who absolutely needs to see each tweet in the second that you tweeted, that will be a problem.

But it might still be fine for some users. Tapbots co-founder Paul Haddad, who is behind the Tweetbot application for Mac and iOS, says that his applications are already set to automatically check Twitter updates "every so often" when a user has the transmission disabled. "As an anecdote, we have had users who run without transmission for months for one reason or another and do not even notice it," he writes in an email to The Verge.

Push notifications could be more of a problem. On mobile devices, it seems that they will disappear or will be very limited. Klinker never had access to the development tools that allow push notifications, so the Talon application has never admitted them. He has been able to create temporary solutions, such as having the application from time to time requesting updates in the background, but can not receive all types of notification and, again, it is a waste of battery.

It's an annoying change, especially since the kind of people who download third-party Twitter applications are probably the kind of people who like to stay engaged on Twitter. It could also be a major problem for Twitterrific, which is available for free on iOS, but charges $ 3 for access to notifications. That purchase in the app is the "primary revenue stream" from Twitterrific, according to Sean Heber, an engineer at Iconfactory. The feature will essentially be broken, or at least partially broken, once Twitter promulgates these changes. "So this is a big problem," he wrote in a tweet.

On the desktop, notifications will be limited, but not as dramatically. Haddad says that the like and retweet notifications will stop working in Tweetbot for Mac, and other notifications will be delayed from one to two minutes.

There may also be other unexpected problems. Heber said that it is still unknown if the direct messages will work on the mobile. Haddad said he expects problems on mobile devices to focus primarily on automatic notifications, but that he was not yet ready to detail the exact impact.

Twitter will offer developers a way to buy access to a new API that will allow all, real-time features. But the service seems to be extremely restrictive and prohibitive for developers of consumer applications. I suspect that it is probably for companies that do data analysis or offer financial services; something that can be sold for much more money. The prices of Twitter are $ 11.60 per user per month, and that only if an application does not exceed 250 users. Something more than that and they have to negotiate a deal for more access. And given Twitter's notorious disinterest in third-party Twitter applications, this is unlikely to be an option for developers.

Although developers are not exactly happy with the way Twitter changes have turned out, it seems that they are not too altered. "Obviously we would prefer to continue offering things in real time in the most possible way, but not being able to do so is not the end of the world," said Haddad.

Klinker said that most Talon users and other recent Android applications for Twitter will not notice any changes, since they never had access to push notifications anyway. Nor are they likely to get some new features from Twitter, he said, such as polls. "My users will not see any change, but Twitter has restricted what I expected to be possible for the future," he wrote. Klinker said he was excited about the API changes because he could finally have given his application access to notifications, but Twitter prices make it "clear that push notifications for third-party applications is the last thing Twitter wants these APIs to use," which is disappointing. " . "

Twitterrific for iOS should" continue to work without pushing, in theory, "Heber wrote, saying that Iconfactory" still hopes to keep the application running with reduced functionality for as long as we can. "

" One thing that I Worry is that Twitter does not understand: many of the people who use our applications are long time users who are highly committed to the service, "said Hockenberry." These people do not get good service from the official customer and are likely to find a way out. different for your social networking needs "

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