Twitter Defends Polarizing Decision To Revoke Third-Party API

Twitter is removing support for older developer tools in favor of a new Account Activity API and recently took to its product blog to explain its reasons for the changes. The new API and changes that have been made to the service are geared toward making things better for everybody involved, the company claims, even though certain third-party developers criticized the decision following its announcements from earlier this year. The APIs reduced the availability of some recently implemented features and general improvements, limiting use to only official Twitter apps and websites. The company argues that has always been the case with some core features such as Moments, Periscopes, Polls, Bookmarks, and tweet-level controls for feedback. While it acknowledges that many developers and users are unhappy with the changes, the social media giant says those fall in line with the primary focus of its platform. Namely, the goal is to uphold its own offerings and encourage the development of “fundamentally new and innovative ways to use Twitter.”

Two of the newly outmoded developer tools were only in use by around one-percent of developers, according to Twitter. However, the API changes have also had consequences for developers and those who use third-party apps. One example acknowledged by the company is that third-party apps may not automatically stream content. Instead, a pull-to-refresh action will be required to update streams, although it does indicate that many third-party apps have already implemented that particular change to limit disruption. Meanwhile, a number of the latest features – which have included better troll mitigation, live video guideline enforcement, real-time tweet engagement count tracking, data controls, accessibility improvements, and controls for direct messages and notifications – simply aren’t in the new API. At the same time, the new tool does add some new features for developers to work with. Among other things, it adds an “unfollow” event type which is sent when a subscriber unfollows someone and a new activity type called “delete event” will be added in the near future.

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Simultaneously, Twitter also revealed that it is removing support for device-specific applications on two of Apple’s products – the Apple Watch and Mac. The company is also replacing Twitter for Windows with its Progressive Web App to bring the whole experience more in line with its mobile application.

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