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The great Twitter takeover: How your favorite apps are putting Fabric to work

Caitlin McGarry | Oct. 29, 2014
Twitter has long had an uneasy relationship with developers who want to tap into the network's wealth of information to make their own apps better. (See: the 2012 API changes.) But the company's new suite of tools, called Fabric, is designed to do just that: it offers Twitter's crash analytics tool, access to Twitter's mobile ad network, and a kit full of ways to put Twitter itself at the heart of any iOS or Android app.

How Fabric's features help apps run steady

RunKeeper uses Crashlytics, too, to keep the popular fitness app running smoothly. Crashlytics tells developers when their apps are crashing — and, most importantly, why. It's not exactly thrilling, but if the new tool keeps your favorite apps from failing you when you need them most — i.e. on a run — then that's good news for users.

Zola isn't the only app using the forward-facing Twitter kit to bring the social network more directly into your experience. Messaging service JibJab integrated Twitter's sign-in tool to let you tweet out the ridiculous photos and animated GIFs the app helps you create. Twitter supports in-tweet GIFs, unlike Facebook, though the app is fairly agnostic and works with both platforms (and Google+). So far JibJab is racking up positive reviews.

Twitter offers other tools as part of its kit. Apps can embed tweets and custom timelines by plugging in a couple lines of code, like the Wall Street Journal does. The network's Digits sign-in tool lets apps accept phone numbers instead of usernames and passwords. McDonald's signed on early with its Alarm App, which lets customers send offers to each other. To redeem the offers, you have to prove you're a real person — that's where Digits comes into play. Who knew McDonald's was such an early adopter? The fast food chain was also on board with Apple Pay since day one.

So we've seen how developers can use Fabric, but it's still unclear how many will embrace Twitter's new tools after a tense history. Plus, Facebook offers many of the same features for third-party apps with Parse, its in-house development team. Now the battle for users has jumped from social networks to the entire mobile app ecosystem, and developers have the opportunity to pick a side or go it alone.


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