Twitter promises more transparency, data tools to woo developers

Twitter is also bolstering its mobile app framework Fabric through integrations with cloud provider Amazon Web Services, digital payments processor Stripe and mobile app deployment pipeline Fastlane.


SAN FRANCISCO---Twitter is working harder to fulfill responsibilities to developers and users alike by reinforcing the platform as a breeding ground for open and global conversations, according to CEO Jack Dorsey.

"Twitter is one of the fastest ways of saying something to the world," opined Dorsey, quickly countering that at its core, Twitter is still fundamentally a simple messaging service that people have made their own.

Speaking at the micro-blogging platform's annual developer summit, Twitter Flight, on Wednesday morning, Dorsey didn't shy away from declaring Twitter's impact on not only social media but global communications and social change.

More than 1,500 software developers from 30 countries signed up and traveled to attend the one-day conference with key tracks dedicated to mobile and data.

"Twitter is unique because it is a brand, a bird, a logo that pretty much every person on this planet has seen at some point in their life," Dorsey declared, later adding, "Twitter is the most revolutionary communications tool of our time."

Developers took to the platform from the beginning, Dorsey asserted, describing some of the more outlandish use cases, such as a developer hooking up a plant that tweeted every time it needed water or connecting a pothole that submitted complaints via tweet to the local government every time a car ran over it.

Still, Dorsey acknowledged that communications between Twitter's corporate side and its external developer community haven't always been clear, insisting on greater transparency going forward and inviting developers in the keynote audience to submit feedback and suggestions.

To continue to please and woo developers to the Twitter platform, the San Francisco-headquarted company unveiled a number of updates to both its core client, apps and back-end data infrastructure.

Jeff Seibert, senior director of product at Twitter, predicted that the next generation of companies will be built on big data, and the faster companies can use data to "find the needle in the haystack," the more successful they will be.

Twitter is opening up a new enterprise product category under its Gnip social analytics unit through the introduction of Insights, aggregating relevant tweets through an engagement API and an audience API for custom audiences broken down by demographic data not surfaced before.

Perhaps one of the simplest data collection methods of all time, Twitter is bringing polling to tweets, allowing all users to embed two-choice polls in their messages, which will stay live for up to 24 hours. Polling is being rolled out to Twitter's desktop, iOS and Android channels over the next few days.

Twitter also updated two of its big debuts from last year: two-factor authentication service Digits and mobile app development framework Fabric.

Digits is expanding from just offering account verification via text messaging to now supporting email confirmation as an authentication method as well as a tool for finding contacts on the platform.

Fabric is being fine-tuned with crash reporting service Crashlytics with added support for game development engine Unity along with logging errors across Apple products running iOS, OS X and tvOS. Fabric is also bolstering its toolset through integrations with cloud provider Amazon Web Services, digital payments processor Stripe and mobile app deployment pipeline Fastlane.

In one way or another, all of these updates filter back to a primary objective for Twitter: improving sales. Twitter is bolstering its MoPub digital advertising marketplace with the addition of native video ads, giving control to developers of how videos appear in their ads and apps.

MoPub senior director Kate Herbert cited that the Twitter subsidiary is already implemented by "tens of thousands of apps everyday," including digital diet app MyFitnessPal, fueling a 31 percent spike in CPMs over the last year for fullscreen ads.

Katja Nelson, manager for Twitter's mobile app sales strategy, drummed down this point further, hinting at the emotional resonance and content sharing potential that these ads can foster.

"We love our phones like people. I'm sure you know what this feels like if you've ever lost your phone," suggested Nelson, describing it as the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we look before bed.

The new developer tools follow up the recent release of Moments, Twitter's mysterious (and perhaps long shot) initiative, previously dubbed Project Lightning.

Filed away under a new tab designated by a lightning bolt in a nod to the original code name, Moments will be managed by an dedicated curation team at Twitter, which will be feeding the dedicated news stream with content from a bevy of high-profile media brands.

Moments is possibly the beginning of a long line of new projects for Twitter, shaping up collectively to present a major pivot point for the social media company.

Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo had long been an active proponent of Twitter's presence during live events, from the World Cup to the Oscars to live-tweeting the latest show available for binge-watching on Netflix. It had been one of the reasons he was often credited for establishing Twitter's first revenue streams after years in the red and sole reliance on venture capital money.

But as user growth stagnated and earnings reports became sluggish, shareholders have been itching for a new product vision, inspiring many hot takes and think pieces in recent days as to why Dorsey -- also still CEO at Square -- was brought back to lead the company he co-founded.

Images via Twitter

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