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Category: Various

How Twitter Integration in iOS 5 will Change Mobile Apps

Written on June 12, 2011 by Japhet Writ

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Following Apple's keynote at WWDC 2011 last Monday, many wonders how Twitter + iOS 5 can change mobile apps.

Among the many things announced last Monday at ’s keynote, a deep integration is one of them. Users will no longer just post tweets from official apps like photos and maps, but any third-party iOS developer will be able to hype up a couple of Twitter APIs. The leader of Twitter Developer Relations, Jason Costa, wrote on the Twitter Developers email list last Monday afternoon that the integration will ‘create huge opportunities for both Twitter and iOS developers.’

“There is single sign-on, which allows you to retrieve a user’s identity, avatar, and other profile data.” That sounds like Facebook Connect, but I’m going to guess that Twitter will not prohibit developers from caching that data for time-shifted, aggregate, offline or other interesting types of analysis. Letting users skip having to create an account with every new app they download and instead click to log-in with their Twitter accounts is going to make many users very happy and encourage every iOS owner to get a Twitter account if they don’t have one already. App developers will get more and better populated user accounts, faster.

“There is follow graph synchronization, which enables you to bootstrap a user’s social graph for your app.” In other words, apps will be able to offer users to find their Twitter friends who are also using a new app they’ve installed, and connect with them there too. That’s the kind of solution to the user-level “cold start problem” that Facebook Connect has been so helpful with for web apps.

“Furthermore, there is the tweet sheet feature, giving your app distribution and reach across Twitter.” Again, like Facebook Connect, this is a feature that appears to make it easy for apps to publish user activity and promotional messages out into the Twitter streams of a user’s friends. Facebook has a complicated algorithm that determines how often an app is allowed to publish messages out into the Newsfeed of a user’s friends, based on how much interactions messages from that app have received in the past. That’s a spam control mechanism that I’m going to guess Twitter will not replicate, at least at first.

“Loren Brichter [creator of beautiful iPhone Twitter app Tweetie, which was acquired and turned into the official Twitter iPhone app] will also be talking about ABUIKit, a UI framework specifically for Mac, which we’ll be open-sourcing.” Those are Costa’s words. Longtime social media leader Anil Dash has this to say about ABUIKit, “I know 3rd party client devs are still mad at Twitter, but every ‘sign in with Twitter’ app dev on iOS will be super excited about ABUIKit.”

The fast account creation, quick friend discovery and social distribution of content looks a lot like Facebook Connect but powered by Twitter. In summary, the iOS apps will look and feel like, read from and publish to Twitter like never before.


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