Twitter won’t break third-party apps (at least not yet)

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Twitter
Twitter delayed a controversial change that may squeeze out third-party apps.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Twitter today pushed back a change to its service that will prevent third-party applications from offering notifications to their users. The services that Talon, Tweetbot, Tweetings, and Twitterrific depend on will still be shut down. It just won’t happen when originally planned.

The replacement Twitter is working on might be completely unsuited for the needs of these third-party developers. And deliberately so. They’re trying to get the company to change course.

The third-party Twitter apps require tech from the company called Site Streams and Users Streams to send notifications to people who have their applications. These will be replaced with an Account Activity API. This might be able to do what Tweetbot, Twittertific, etc. want, but the they don’t know: they haven’t been allowed to participate in the beta testing going on now.

And they do know that the version others are testing is limited to 35 Twitter accounts, while they need access to all the accounts of all their thousands of users. It’s not clear if there’s going to be an enterprise version of the new API designed for them.

In a joint statement, the third-party developers wrote “Despite many requests for clarification and guidance, Twitter has not provided a way for us to recreate the lost functionality.”

Not an innocent move?

But there might not be a replacment for what the third-party Twitter apps need. The developers suspect Twitter is switching to the more limited API as part of deliberate plan shut them down. 

In their joint statement, they wrote “Despite a long history of third-party contributions to the Twitter ecosystem, the company continues to actively discourage ‘client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.’ Including platforms where there is no native app.” That description precisely matches Talon, Tweetings, etc.

A scheduling change, not a policy change

Twitter said last year that Site Streams and User Streams will be retired on June 19. Logically enough, the company took to Twitter today to announce that the switch was being pushed back.

A new date wasn’t named, however. Instead, today’s announcement said “As always, we’re committed to providing ample time to migrate. We will provide at least 90 days notice of deprecation date from when the Account Activity API becomes generally available to all developers. More specifics on timing to come.”

It’s possible that Twitter will use the additional time to address the concerns of Talon, Tweetbot, Tweetings, and Twitterrific.