Twitter, the social network with 335 million users worldwide, stirred controversy by ending third-party app access to popular features such as push notifications and automatic timeline updates, per a blog post. The company explained that the change was part of its effort to improve Twitter for iOS, Android and twitter.com.
Twitter removed support for Apple Watch and Mac, replaced its previous Twitter for Windows app with its Progressive Web App and ended support for some developer tools. The company said it can provide the best experience with its owned and operated Twitter for iOS and Android apps.
Twitter is still committed to investing in software tools and support for third-party developers, Rob Johnson, senior director of data enterprise solutions at Twitter, said in the blog post. The company continues to invest in TweetDeck, an application originally developed by an outside company that Twitter acquired. TweetDeck lets desktop users see multiple Twitter feeds at the same time, among other functions.
While Twitter isn’t obligated to support the business models of third-party developers, alienating them may lead to less innovation as they turn their creative efforts to other platforms. Twitter’s decision to end third-party access to streamed services like push notifications and timeline updates has been years in the making as the company seeks to bring in-house many features that outside developers originally created. Twitter had announced the shutdown in April with a deadline of June 19, but delayed the cut-off date in response to complaints from developers who sought more time to update their apps, per The Verge. Twitter developers and customers have voiced their complaints about the change in tweets with the #BreakingMyTwitter tag.
Twitter’s decision to remove access to parts of its Application Programming Interface (API), the software that lets third-party developers pull data from Twitter, significantly affects apps like Tweetbot, Talon and Tweetings that provided features and streamlined interfaces that Twitter’s app doesn’t have, per VentureBeat. But the software tools that power features in those apps are used by less than 1% of third-party developers, as Twitter’s Johnson notes in his blog.
Twitter for much of its history was more open to third-party developers who created new features, and to users who were given wide leeway to say whatever they wanted on the platform. But as the company matures and seeks to boost profitability, it faces greater pressure to build out its own functionality that can be supported with ad revenue. That also means cracking down on trollish behavior, hate speech and bots that users and advertisers find objectionable, an area where Twitter is currently struggling to find the right balance. This week, more than 71,000 Twitter users started blocking major brands on the platform in a protest over that the fact that it hadn't yet blocked far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.