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Twitter app makers trying to figure out the future

Lex Friedman | Aug. 22, 2012
After Twitter announced some tough new rules for third-party developers last week, it remains unclear precisely what those changes might mean for the future of your favorite third-party Twitter client.

Would The Iconfactory test the waters? "We already are," Hockenberry said, since "the best way to learn about a new service is to start using it." He pointed out that he already has as an account there, and mentioned that The Iconfactory is "one of the first companies to have an account" there, too. The company's early verdict, according to Hockenberry: "We love what we see and are impressed with how much progress has been made in such a short time. It reminds me a lot of Twitter in the early days."

Time to press the panic button?

Paul Haddad is the lead developer for Tapbots, the company behind the popular Tweetbot app. In a blog post titled "Don't Panic," he wrote that "Tweetbot for Mac is coming out soon, Tweetbot for iOS isn't going anywhere." As with The Iconfactory, Haddad writes that Tweetbot's user cap number is "pretty huge," and that he expects it will be "a few years" until the company hits that wall.

He adds that "all our current users will be fine" even if the company eventually hits its cap.

Of course, if Twitter makes significant changes to its API that require heavy development work, companies like Tapbots may find it harder to justify the costs involved in issuing the needed updates to a maxed-out user base, unless they resort to options like in-app purchases to pay for the new development that would previously have been supported by new users.

Haddad makes passing reference to Twitter's new display requirements for third-party apps, writing that Tapbots will "be working with Twitter over the next six months to make sure we comply." What changes Twitter may require of the app aren't yet known.

But Haddad promises that "the beta of Tweetbot for Mac will be coming soon, shortly followed by the final release in the Mac App Store. All three versions of Tweetbot [iPad, iPhone, and Mac] are based on the same low level code base, so once [the Mac App Store version is] out, we expect to continue to add new and exciting features to all three apps." Regarding, Haddad told Macworld: "We plan to keep an eye on it, but haven't made any firm plans" thus far.

Hockenberry agrees with Tapbots's "Don't panic" message "in the short-term," but adds that "it's the long-term that should concern Twitter users. Third-party apps will atrophy and eventually the only option for users will be the official apps. For some apps, it's already happened; for others it will take many years. But in the end, Twitter will get what it needs."

Andrew Stone of Stone Design, the company behind Twittelator Neue, told Macworld that "our pro users swear by the app, so they'll be happy that Twitter has provided a way for us to keep going for a while." He points out that "it's Twitter's playground, so we have to play by their rules... I'm thrilled they are moving the API forward, and it will no doubt create more opportunity for the agile independent developers who helped build the Twitter ecosphere."


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