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How the recently shuttered third-party apps contributed to Twitter’s development

Ivan Mehta@indianidle 

Last week, Twitter updated its developer terms to effectively ban any alternative Twitter client application. The company’s change came after many popular apps — including Twitterrific, Tweetbot, Echofone and Fenix — were suspended by the company’s developer platform team without any notice or explanation.

The social media company hadn’t been transparent about its decisions to shun third-party clients, only saying it was enforcing “long-standing” rules (which it then had to rush to document), making developers distrust the platform even more. While Twitter has had a rocky relationship with app developers for years, third-party clients have contributed to many critical features that are core to Twitter’s experience today.

Below, we’ve rounded up some examples of how the work done by third-party apps became an integral part of the social network:

  • The bird logo: Twitterrific, one of the earliest Twitter clients, started using a bird logo when it started and other clients also followed, according to a blog by one of the app’s co-creators Ged Maheux. The bird became part of Twitter’s official logo only in 2010.
  • The word “Tweet”: That’s right. The word tweet wasn’t really a part of the company’s vocabulary early on. Another blog post by Maheux quotes one of Twitter founder Biz Stone’s emails to users that use words like “Twitter-ers” and “Twittering.” Early in January 2007, Twitterrific started using the term “Twit.” The post notes that one of the engineers who worked at Twitter suggested the name change from “Twit” to “Tweet.”
  • Pull to refresh: Today, it is hard to imagine Twitter without the pull-to-refresh button. However, Twitter didn’t have an app back then. This feature was instead pioneered by an app called Tweetie made by developer Loren Brichter.

Image Credits: TechCrunch

As the era of third-party apps comes to an end, with some companies publishing angry blogs or other eulogies, Twitter owner Elon Musk claims he now wants to make Twitter an “everything app” (aka a “super app.”) But given Musk’s treatment of the developer community, the opportunity to source future ideas from the Twitter app ecosystem is now lost to the company, which could hinder future developments.

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