After years of rocky relationships with developers, Twitter is now trying to win them back.
In its final step, the company wants to promote third-party apps on its platform. The company uses Twitter Toolboxa webpage launched in February, to highlight the apps to a number of users.
As TechCrunch reported, the experiment begins by suggesting security-related apps to users, such as tools to filter out vile comments.
Amir Shevat, Twitter’s product manager for its developer platform, told the publication that the company wants to contextualize app suggestions for users based on their actions:
[Developers] want users and we want to provide them with the right users at the right time – giving value both to Twitter users, who currently need these development innovations, and giving distribution to these developers.
As you can see from the image below, when a user blocks someone, Twitter may suggest apps like Block Party, Bodyguard, and Moderate that help you optimize your experience on the bird site by filtering the unwanted content – going beyond what the platform can do on its own.
In 2020, it relaunched its API for building third-party apps. And last year, it made it available to a wider set of developers with an easy sign-up process. This app highlighting feature is an extension of Twitter’s growing efforts to support developers.
Notably, Bodyguard founder and CEO Charles Cohen told TechCrunch that the app has already benefited from Twitter’s new experience:
“We currently estimate that 25% of users installing Bodyguard come from the Twitter Toolbox website, and we expect that figure to increase to 50% in the coming days.”
For the past few weeks, Elon Musk’s potential bid to take over Twitter has dominated the news.
Former Twitter employee Evan Henshaw-Plath posted a wire on how another hostile bid affected developers in 2015.
IdeaLabs’ Bill Gross reportedly tried to take control of Twitter by aggressively buying third-party clients. As a defense mechanism, the company has limited API access to 100,000 registered users. If you wanted more, you could ask for special permission, but that was rarely approved.
However, at that time, the social network was not transparent on the matter. So users and developers who provided unique features with their apps got disappointed and confused.
With this new program, Twitter is trying to bring more transparency and allow users to experience more features on the platform apart from the native app.
The Future of Twitter App Discovery
Shevat told TechCrunch that Twitter is ready to experiment with models like an app store to increase discovery. But he said cautiously that the world is full of ancient markets that no one visits:
I need to make sure users find value – maybe I can just make it appear in the product instead of a separate marketplace. Maybe I can create a section in the product that exposes developer innovation.
As a platform, Twitter still has a ton of issues ranging from moderating hate speech to crypto-spam bots. Although it cannot solve all these problems immediately, it can rely on smart developers to create useful applications.