Twitter changing how third-party apps use its services. How will it impact Windows Phone?

Twitter has announced some sweeping changes to their all-important application programming interface or just API. This API is essential plumbing to allow application developers access to the “fire hose” of data from twitter. It has been no secret that Twitter wish to tighten their grip ever more over whom can access their system. With their latest set of guidelines, they show they mean business.

As Windows Phone users, we are literally spoilt for choice when it comes to third party twitter apps, with the likes of Rowi, Carbon, glƏƏk!, Mehdoh and Birdsong (to name drop a few). The new API could mean real headaches for those trying to differentiate with their Twitter client...

First up is that authentication will be required by all endpoints, in the case of Windows Phone, that means twitter clients or the built in twitter functionality. Currently some public data is available to endpoints, the new API will do away with that loophole. Nothing big here, it just means Twitter will have a better idea of who’s accessing what.

WP Central

The second change will be that Twitter will enable something called Per-endpoint rate limiting. Essentially this looks to give Twitter more control over how much of the Twitter data can be sucked down at a time. Some applications might want more than the current 350 calls per hour and opt for the much higher 720 calls per hour. For the average Twitter app, those calls will be knocked right down to 60 calls per hour, per endpoint (or rather " can send 60 Tweets, look at 60 user profiles, and refresh 60 times in an hour").

The big changes really revolve around what Twitter calls the 'Developer Rules of the Road':

  • New display requirements  – With this Twitter will effectively be locking down how their data is displayed on ANY client.  Standardising the format might seem innocuous enough but it could spell the end to varied third party twitter apps. If they feel you have deviated too far from their path, they will revoke the application key. We certainly do not want to see a situation where all Twitter clients look and act the same. We’re sure devs don’t either.
  • Pre-installed mobile applications will need to be Twitter “certified” - That means any twitter clients that come built into mobiles, from the native Twitter functionality of Windows Phone to the deep integration into Android and iOS. That will mean now working with Twitter closely to get approval. We suspect that is exactly the relationship Twitter have had with Microsoft for some time. The two had a few issues in the past with Twitter access. Some of that friction was likely down to it being built into Windows Phone. Our take is that Twitter is likely looking to get paid by the companies that are directly profiting from their service.
  • Developers have to work with Twitter directly if they need a large amount of user tokens - Popular Twitter apps that are using over 100,000 tokens will need to work with Twitter from now on. Current applications with around that amount of users/tokens have a further 200% of growing space before they need to act. Once they reach that, it’s time to go speak with Twitter. Reasons could vary for this, ensuring good service quality by checking the most popular apps do not pull too much data. Perhaps Twitter wants to see if they can charge for access for the popular apps?

More control for Twitter is on the cards here, we think this is still the tip of the iceberg. Whilst not that drastic, these new rules give Twitter greater power to approve or disprove apps that use their system. With that could come some complications for developers, less differentiation and in some cases direct oversight from Twitter.

If you’re a developer, we’d love to know what you think of these changes. Even if your not a developer we’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Source: Twitter

Robert Brand
  • Unfortunately I think this bad news for third party Twitter app devs. I mean some of the more popular ones must already be over the 100,000 token mark and will expand the 200% fairly quickly? If this is Twitters drive to force more people into using their own app then I only have one thing to say about it: Make it better and update it more often giving it some of the stellar features found in 3rd party apps and then maybe more people would be satisfied with the default client!
    Honestly, nothing like closing down a thriving area of the market for your own ends is there?
  • I just use the "Me" tile to post to Twitter. No problems there.
  • Me either. I see no need for 3rd party. They usually don't even look nice.
  • All good but you can't dm from the me hub, you can't search for tweets and you can't follow people..
  • Not one of the users I follow, or who follow me, are in my Phonebook. And that's how I want to keep it. Also a little difficult to connect to 4 different personal & business accounts through the Me tile.
  • Well this wouldnt be so back if the Official Twitter app for Windows Phone didnt suck so much
  • It sucks on all the platforms, not just WIndows Phone.
  • Actually, the best third party Twitter app I've seen, is on the dying (dead?) Symbian platform: Gravity.   It even has 'not bad' Facebook functionality and a Google Reader built in, but it's fairly basic.
  • Why use an app? Its built in. What the heck are you trying to do with 140 characters?
  • Good luck sending and receiving direct messages with the me tile.
  • Can't retweet w/ comment, search users, follow users or block & report spam with the built in client.
  • I don't do that much Twitter "management". Post through Me tile and receive and respond through the people tile. I've never had any issues but then again in not following tons of people where I need to make "groups". So I see your point, it just hasn't been an issue with me.
  • Can't tweet an image through the me tile either. I have gleek and I can follow, I follow, view images in the app, post, RT, etc, etc. The official app is so slow that it is beyond useless. I only use the me tile and people hub for Facebook to better manage the two services.
  • I tweeted an image this morning from the Me tile.
  • There's no need of III part tw app if u use WP, it s integrated
  • This is bullcrap, Twitter just knows that their apps are crap and so they want to limit the competition. 
  • They don't want to limit their competition, they just want to profit from them.
    I don't think that we as Twitter's commodity will be much affected. There will still be 3rd party applications and our stake in individual apps is a lot less than towards Twitter, so the users will find it easier to find alternative applications (you're the only one that need to do it) rather than finding alternative Twitter (your whole social graph need to move) or waiting for Twitter to change (unlikely except you can rally a financially destructive action).
    For developers though, it's the "my way or the highway" thing. Either they take the deal, or lost their hundreds of thousands of consumers. Users might complain against Twitter for a while when news sites are publishing the hot news (wont be long in this age), but in the end, Twitter still have stronger bargaining power than the users.
  • Love the push notification for the Twitter App for Windows Phone. It opens faster then Mehdoh and Rowi, but lacks the number indicating amount of new tweets received, integration of instagram pictures, conversation threads for both, public and private. If it had those features, I'd gladly use their app over Mehdoh which I am currently using and IMO the best one out there.
  • That's fine, but currently there is no advanced functionality within WP as of yet, you can't add lists, people, search. You need a third party app.
  • Ah, Twitter. The social network service that takes a couple individual features of Facebook, limits the features, and somehow still attracts people to use it. Can't we all just come to an understanding that Twitter is pointless?
  • No straight male with self-respect uses that bullshit.
  • And no person with any ounce of respect makes ridiculous assumptions or comments such as this
  • +1
    Obviously that idiot has no clue of the benefits. Especially if you run a business of ANY kind.
  • I do think it is rather lame but I signed up for the Zune, Xbox, and windows phone support teams. Faster than calling them and waiting on the phone forever and better than email since most of the time they don't offer support through email. Yes, calling would be faster but I'm not a woman and can't stand talking on the phone for even 5 minutes. I do it if I have to but prefer texting so I can keep doing w/e it is I was/am/ want to do instead of holding the phone to my head.
  • Or we all can use the services we choose to use.
    And its pointless if all you do is post updates on what color your bowel movement is. Otherwise, you get cool breaking news from whatever celebrity/site/*insert company* you choose to follow that might not be breaking anywhere else. And celebs and sports teams have cool contest that are made possible only with Twitter.
  • Tell Rob Delaney it's pointless.
  • I think this the "display requirements" is an obvious ploy to force 3rd parties into displaying "promoted tweets" (aka ads) which I don't think ANY of them do currently. I also honestly believe that Twitter charging for access is spot on, but it'd be a sliding scale. Popular apps get charged less while small third-parties get charged more to make sure they don't go rogue and cut out ads I'm not all the way against the new rules, they have a right to limit data access so their servers aren't overloading, but I think they'll end up going to far for the sake of money.
  • One of the tweets I received the last 24 hours was something along the lines of that if you are working on a Twitter app that isn't already in public use, give up now and find a new project.
    I understand that Twitter needs/wants to profit from the fruits of their labor. The problem is how they are going about doing that. It was fun while it lasted, but perhaps it is time for a new kid on the block to rise up and take their place.
  • There is already a Kickstarter project for this called It is developer supported (which means that they will have "customers") and no ads. This is a big mistake by Twitter.
  • It was proved that over 40% of tweeters are bots, service is loosing market...
  • I've gotten 2-3 of these stupid bot tweets for working from home. You would think that someone somewhere would have figured out how to prevent these bots from even being setup.
  • So when new twitter API comes out, will the bigger/more popular get 'approved/supported' before other apps? I think so, which will unfortunately mean ios apps and droid apps will be working before attention goes to the WP twitter apps :(
  • As many mentioned before, this wouldn't be an issue if the official twitter clients were any good. If they had their own great client it would make sense for them to not want 3rd party apps that do exactly the same thing. 3rd party apps solve another issue for them as well. Twitter doesn't want to spend the resources on building great clients for every platform.
    With the API and 3rd party developers, they don't need to. These 3rd party apps helped twitter grow. If they really want to have their own clients be the only real option, that's fine. but crappy clients on only major platforms won't cut it. If they can't create (or buy) their own great clients and are benfiting for years from 3rd party developer's work, limiting it now is lame. I'm waiting to see if the thing works, 50$/year sounds high but if twitter keeps it up and starts getting google-annoying with ads people might move over
  • MS should develop the twitter app or Nokia.. My jeez is the official one horrible
  • I've just started on making Mehdoh compatible with the 1.1 API.. and tbh there are a few big changes I will have to make - mostly down to Twitter REMOVING endpoints. For example, there's now no DAILY or WEEKLY trends, only current trends. I guess that's fairly innocuous, but more worrying is that the endpoints that show who retweeted a tweet have gone. You'll not be able to see who retweeted a tweet anymore, and likewise the ability to show just your own retweets is now gone from the API.
    I haven't even really moved onto addressing any UI changes that will need to be made, but so far I'm not liking it.