Twitter makes third-party apps worse by killing ‘legacy’ APIs

Despite promises to improve its relationship with developers, Twitter continues targeting third-party apps by killing ‘legacy’ APIs.

Most of the core functionality is still available but more limited and not as attractive as Twitter’s official app which it’s clearly pushing users towards.

For example, popular Twitter client Tweetbot had to put out this changelog:

- Timeline streaming on WiFi is now disabled. Your timelines will now refresh automatically every 1-2 minutes instead.

- Push notifications for Mentions and Direct Messages will now be delayed by a few minutes.

- Push notifications for Likes, Retweets, Follows and Quotes have been disabled. We’ll be investigating bring some of these back in the future.

- Activity and Stats tabs [reflecting Likes and Retweets received] have been removed.

Many of these changes will mean little to an average user simply checking their timeline. For power users, who require more real-time information about who’s interacting with their posts, they’ll be driven to using Twitter’s official tools.

That is, unless developers stump up $2,899 for every 250 users per month if they want to use the new Account Activity API which essentially replaces the lost features.

Rocky Developer Relationship

There have been some fantastic Twitter apps over the years from third-party developers. Like many services, they were much better than official variants and the service flourished as a result.

A blog post by Twitter Senior Director Rob Johnson about the latest changes makes it sound like Twitter is solely responsible for the company’s success, while also coming across completely disconnected from the experiences of actual users:

“We feel the best Twitter experience we can provide today is through our owned and operated Twitter for iOS and Android apps, as well as desktop and mobile twitter.com. We’ve long believed this — we’ve focused on delivering the best experience for our apps and sites for years.”

Unfortunately, many of the most beloved clients have been forced to cease development as a result of Twitter’s policies.

The biggest outcry from developers arrived following the company’s decision to introduce token limits, effectively limiting the number of users a single app could have.

On several occasions, Twitter has promised to improve its relationship with developers.

Most notably, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told the audience during its 2015 Flight conference:

“We want to come to you today and first and foremost apologise for our confusion. We want to reset our relationship and we want to make sure that we are learning, that we are listening, and that we are rebooting."

Three years later, it still feels like Twitter’s relationship with developers is no better.

What are your thoughts on Twitter’s relationship with developers? Let us know in the comments.

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