Twitter flaunts 'Fabric' while honing in on mobile base

Twitter is also stepping away from the traditional password login with a new method that is actually more old school than you think.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO---Twitter is flocking toward mobile like it is the promised land of revenue.

On the surface, it appears Twitter has charted a course there by riding the power of the airwaves.

But underneath it all is a new mobile app development framework dubbed Fabric, a platform designed to grow and scale with the app reflecting membership and revenue.

Twitter CEO Dick Costelo launched the social network's first mobile developer conference in quite some time, championing Twitter as "the very best way to keep up" and connect with your world.

More than 1,000 mobile app developers were in attendance at the packed Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, which more closely resembeled a neon-lit nightclub than a cavernous conference hall on Wednesday morning.

Upon entering, guests were invited to tweet, or "Drop," song requests, which would automatically be picked up and blasted over the soundsystem. 

Electronic dance music and artisinal coffee from Blue Bottle on opposite ends of hall emitted a flashy vibe, but Costelo got down to business immediately.

Costelo argued that the SDK landscape is made up of "self-interested" approaches, with offerings optimized either for a specific platform or particular capability when "what developers really want is cross-platform consistency."

Answering that call, Costelo and company trotted out Fabric a new SDK and set of integrated services tailored to provide a direct connection between developers and app users.

"We power it. Then we get out of the way," Costelo insisted.

Twitter already has some major media power players signed up for Fabric to demonstrate its capabilities. The music scene is stealing the spotlight, starting with Spotify and Jawbone.

But other familiar sources, such as The Wall Street Journal, and established brands such as McDonalds -- fresh off its other deep dive into tech this week with Apple Pay -- are also trying on Fabric.

Fabric, actually made up of a library of SDKs rather than just one, is touted as more seamless way for bringing tweets into apps and sending them out -- all generating another type of fuel blazing through Silicon Valley: data.

For example, McDonalds is using Fabric across all of its mobile channels to deploy and manage its global identity platform to improve customer experiences and marketing engagement.

Revenue-wise, Twitter is leaning on its 2013 acquisition of MoPub for managing relationships with direct advertisers and ad networks. Twitter boasted "thousands of advertisers" are using the MoPub Marketplace to place bids, with more than 170 billion ad requests in the last 30 days.

Twitter engineers doled out some smaller morsels and treats for third-party developers, including "Share Links" for recruiting beta users, "Groups" for pooling these testers together, and extending Crashlytics Labs support to Android.

Also taking a page from Facebook and Google, Twitter is expanding single sign-on capabilities, labeled "Compose," editing the option down to just a few lines of code for developers.

Despite the juiced-up login method -- not to mention the constant threat of hacked Twitter accounts following a slew of breaches in the last few years -- Twitter is already starting to fly away from the traditional email and password.

Tapping into mobile devices for their original purposes -- as telephones -- Twitter is hoping users will be keen on punching in "Digits." The brand-new, white-labeled product, which can be set up with a single line of code, allows members to login using their phone numbers (and cached data) -- no password required.

Digits will be launching for iOS, Android, and mobile web immediately worldwide in 28 languages.

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