Third-Party Apps See Major Improvement After Twitter’s Latest Update
Twitter announced a new update on Friday that should majorly improve the experience inside third-party Twitter apps. It is now giving app developers significantly more access to its reverse-chronological timeline. This update to Twitter’s recently launched API v2, the interface that developers use to collect data from Twitter, is a new and improved step in the social media platform’s journey to better support developers.
The new API v2 feature allows developers to “retrieve the most recent Tweets and Retweets posted by the authenticated user and the accounts they follow.” In better words, a developer can now ask to see the data that Twitter shows you when refreshing the first-party app with the “Latest Tweets” option selected, so the app can show it to you instead.
This will improve the overall experience for both users and developers alike.
For third-party clients such as Tweetbot, the feature is an extremely welcome one. Paul Haddad, one of Twitter’s seasoned developers, is quoted in the app’s big announcement as saying that the original way to get to a user’s timeline “is one of our most used API calls.” The older version of the API was launched back in 2012, so it was definitely in need of a change, and developers using it faced many more obstacles when trying to reach a user’s timeline.
Haddad explained that the recent change will make Tweetbot much more responsive to users. “We’ll simply be able to refresh the timeline more often and allow users to scroll much further back in their timeline,” thanks to the fact that API v2 allows developers to make additional requests in a few different ways. The older version, API v1.1, allowed users to request the home timeline 15 times in a 15-minute window and could load up to 800 tweets. API v2 supports a maximum of 180 requests per user in the same timeframe, retrieving up to 3,200 tweets.
From a development standpoint, this makes things a lot simpler. “We currently use the v1.1 home timeline API to get a list of Tweets and then v2 APIs to fill in any v2 specific data (polls, cards, metrics, etc…). With this new v2 version we can get all that data in a single step.”
Throughout v2’s rollout (going into testing in 2020 and launching as the main method to interface with Twitter in late 2021), Twitter has made one thing extremely clear: it is trying to make amends and support developers after years of making new features exclusive to its first-party app. The company even made additional removals of restrictions from its terms of service that made it more difficult for third-party clients to compete with the main app, such as limits on the number of users they could have.
Talk is cheap, so it's understandable if some developers are unsure whether Twitter is truly dedicated. But, with Friday's announcement, Twitter appears to be continuing its practice of granting developers access to key functionality, and Haddad thinks it's "notable" that Twitter constructed and released a home timeline API for v2.
“There’s a number of uses for this API but a big one is for third-party Twitter clients to be Twitter clients. The fact that they released this is an indication that they’re going to continue to allow and even encourage alternative clients.”
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