- Twitter's director of augmented reality and virtual reality technology, Alessandro Sabatelli, is leaving the company, he announced in a tweet on Tuesday. The former designer for Apple joined Twitter less than two years ago, according to Marketing Land.
- The company's broader plans for AR and VR are unclear, and the company so far hasn’t embraced the technologies in the same way that other social networks like Facebook and Snapchat have. After Sabatelli joined Twitter, its Periscope live video streaming service added face filters similar to that of Snapchat.
- Twitter also has experimented with 360-degree video, which is considered the most basic form of VR, letting people view panoramas by moving their smartphones.
Twitter hasn't yet announced a replacement for Sabatelli, which has led to some speculation online about the company's future for VR and AR. The company's most significant work with the tech has been mostly in its Live360 videos for Periscope, which were first introduced in 2016. Twitter added the 360-degree videos to its coverage of broadcast events such as PGA Tour golf tournaments.
Sabatelli's departure appears less significant for Twitter than the recent loss of Anthony Noto, the company's former chief operating officer who left for a role at peer-to-peer lending company SoFi. Noto was the driving force behind Twitter’s push into live video, a business effort Twitter has pushed in the past two years, according to Recode.
Meanwhile, competitors Apple and Google have worked to make it easier and cheaper for app developers to create AR experiences through introducing dedicated software tools last year. Twitter, however, has yet to add similar AR effects to its camera, a move that may hinder the platform's innovation growth as competitors stay more up-to-date on the latest tech for users. Outside developers have taken matters into their own hands and created AR apps that are compatible with Twitter, though that route is generally more costly and resource intensive, causing few companies to take on that task. Independent iOS developer Oscar Falmer last year debuted an iPhone app that used Apple's ARKit to create an AR version of Twitter.