Twitter on Deprecating APIs: Our Apps are Better

Twitter API shut down for third-party apps

Twitter shut down what it calls “outdated developer tools” that third-party client app makers used, hobbling or killing key features they offered. The reason the social network is offering now: its own apps and website offer a better experience.

Twitter API shut down for third-party apps
Twitter says its apps and web interface are better than third-party client apps

Twitter Senior Director of Data Enterprise Solutions Rob Johnson said in a blog post,

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 We’ve long believed this — we’ve focused on delivering the best experience for our apps and sites for years.

Twitter has been warning developers for some time this change was coming. Now that it’s here, third-party client apps like Tweetbot and Twitterific have lost real-time stream updating, most Push notifications, and statistics and activity data. For the Push notifications that are left—Direct Messages and Mentions—you’ll see a several minute delay.

“Our goal is to deliver the best Twitter for you. This year, we’re moving faster towards this goal by focusing on improving Twitter for iOS, Android, and,” Johnson said. “As part of this, we’ve chosen to stop supporting some other experiences. We’ve removed support for Twitter for Apple Watch and Twitter for Mac, we’ve replaced our previous Twitter for Windows app with our Progressive Web App.”

In other words, Twitter thinks it offers the best user experience and interface on all platforms, except for the Mac, where it won’t let developers make full-featured apps.

[Twitter Just Killed Key Features in Third-party Client Apps]

Putting the resources into maintaining APIs for developers isn’t cheap, but it’s not like Twitter hasn’t already done that. The new tools Twitter offers would let developers make feature-complete apps, but the company is charging a monthly per-user that’s cost prohibitive. For most developers, their monthly bill would be in the thousands of dollars.

Johnson says the changes aren’t a big deal for users, and the deprecated APIs were used by only 1% of third-party developers. He doesn’t say which 1%, or how they came to that number.

Also, 1% of developers doesn’t equate to 1% of users. A single Twitter client app can have thousands or millions of users—and that’s significant.

In the end, it still feels like Twitter’s change wasn’t so much about killing off old code, but more about finding another way to force users into its own apps and web interface.

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