All posts tagged ‘Twitter’

File Under: Web Apps, Web Services

Twitter Plans to Launch its Own URL Shortener

SAN FRANCISCO, California — Twitter has announced it will start its own URL shortening service for tweets from its official apps.

Twitter CEO Evan Williams made the announcement Wednesday night at Chirp, the Twitter developer’s conference. It happened casually, during a Q&A session with attendees.

Williams sees the lack of an official Twitter link shortening service as “a problem” that needs to be solved.

When Twitter turns on its URL shortener, it will be the default shortener for the Twitter website, and the official Twitter apps on BlackBerry, the iPhone and Android — yes, there is an Android app in the works, Williams confirmed. The BlackBerry app is finished, and the iPhone app will be released as soon as Twitter completes the acquisition of AteBits it began last week. AteBits makes the super-popular Tweetie for the iPhone, which will be rebranded as Twitter for iPhone.

Twitter must have been planning this for a while, because it purchased (that’s a URL from Trinidad and Tobago) a few days ago, and that will probably become Twitter’s short URL root.

Right now, the Twitter website uses to serve short links, and the most popular client apps give people a choice between and other sites like tinyURL or But is the most popular, mostly because it’s the default link shortener for Twitter.

Williams said that the official client apps that are on their way will probably not give people a choice between different shorteners. “If they want to use a different shortener, they can just use a different app.”

The official apps will also serve Promoted Tweets from Twitter’s ad platform. will likely survive — people are loyal to it now because it offers real-time stats for traffic and retweets on your shortened links. also has a paid service and a platform for creating your own URL shorteners.

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File Under: Events, Identity, Social

Twitter Switches on @Anywhere

This is an @anywhere hovercard

This is an @anywhere hovercard

SAN FRANCISCO, California — Twitter’s @anywhere features are now live for developers to start using, the company has announced.

Developers can begin using the system to integrate different kinds of Twitter engagement directly into their sites or apps. You can find details about it at the new Twitter developer site (which also launched Wednesday) at

@Anywhere basically provides a way to let Twitter users follow other people and send tweets directly from within your web page or app.

The key component is the “hovercard” — you’ve seen them on the Twitter website for the last month or so. Any time you see somebody’s Twitter handle mentioned, you can hover over that person’s handle and a little window pops up showing their profile photo, location, short bio, number of followers, and — the key part — a “Follow” button you can click and add them to your follow list right there, without leaving the page.

The announcement was made by Twitter’s head of platform Ryan Sarver at Chirp, the company’s developer conference happening here.

You can start dropping hovercards onto your site using “a few lines of JavaScript” (outlined on the documentation page at Twitter’s development site).

It’s interesting to see so much excitement around hovercards, which have a lot in common with hCards, the microformat standard for publishing and sharing contact information on the web. Microformats have been around for a while but they haven’t really been widely adopted, and it will be interesting to see if rebooting the idea on top of the Twitter platform — a social layer that makes them more accessible and relevant– will give new life to the concept.

The other components of @anywhere are the “Connect with Twitter” (a remote sign-in system) and the Tweetbox, which you can embed in your page and let people send tweets directly from the page.

Sarver brought out some media partners to talk about how they’re deploying @anywhere features. There were some impressive presentations from The New York Times, Yahoo and MSNBC News. If you’re reading a story on one of their websites, you can see a hovercard when you hover over a journalist’s name and start following them immediately.

One other announcement from Sarver: Twitter is turning on an as-yet-undocumented feature called Annotations this week. It allows developers to add any kinds of metadata they want to tweets. The obvious one is content-specific tags, but we should see other implementations of Annotations when developers start playing with them at the Chirp Hack Day taking place tonight and Thursday.

File Under: Events, Location

Twitter Launches ‘Points of Interest’ Pages for Locations


SAN FRANCISCO, California — Twitter is adding location-based place pages to its website, the company has announced.

The new feature is called Points of Interest. Starting soon, users will be able to click on a place name (or a location tag, if one exists) in a tweet and see that place on a map. Next to the map, they’ll also be able to see what people are saying about that place in a search results view. From what we’ve seen, it’s a convenient entry point into the current Twitter chatter about a certain place or city.

There will be an API for developers, which we’ll learn more about later today. The API will let developers build this feature into client apps, so it will be accessible from more places than just the Twitter website soon enough.

The announcement was made by Twitter CEO Evan Williams at the company’s Chirp developer conference taking place here Wednesday.

There are several hundred developers here at Chirp, and the announcement drew a round of applause from the audience.

“I think it’s a big step forward for the Twitter platform,” says Andy Gadiel, founder and president of JamBase, a social website for finding live music shows and events in cities worldwide. “Location is all about relevancy. Not just where you are in terms of a latitude and longitude point, but a real place in the world.”

We’ve seen huge growth around location-based services lately, especially on mobiles, where it’s become central to the user experience of almost every search-based or social app. Late last year, Twitter added the ability for users to add location to tweets, something that made tweets more relevant for search applications. The location tags are basically geotags indicating latitude and longitude, or latlongs. Also, Facebook recently added location-sharing for its users’ status updates as well.

Just after the announcement, Williams fielded a question from the audience: Will Twitter have a check-in behavior around Points of Interest, a la Foursquare?

His response:

“We’re not looking to duplicate the functionality of Foursquare or Gowalla. We want to make those services work better with Twitter. If you’re writing a tweet about a place and you type the name of that place, that’s sort of a check-in. But what we’re really interested in is what you’re saying about that place.”

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File Under: APIs

Using the Twitter API

The microblogging site with the funny name is one of the hottest web services around.

Twitter is one of those websites with very little room for functional nuance. Its limit of 140 characters per post forces users to be succinct, something that makes many people feel over-constrained and leads them to view the service as too simple to actually be useful. Others see unbridled freedom inside such a unique limitation and embrace it like a poetic device. The lesson: You either get Twitter or you don’t.

Regardless of how you feel about it, if you’re looking to try out an API for the first time, Twitter is a great place to start.

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File Under: Social, Web Apps

NYT Shows Off Real-Time Tweet Tracker During Stevenote

We were half-expecting Twitter to break entirely when Steve Jobs took the stage Wednesday morning to announce the new Apple iPad. It was a little slow, but it didn’t break.

The New York Times’ Labs website was tracking all Apple-related Tweets in real time during the event. A screenshot is shown above — a simple page that updates around once every two seconds. The data is pulled in via JSON requests, and the super-clean refreshes are handled with jQuery.

Twitter sets limits on API calls. Currently it’s set at 150 calls per hour, which, for apps that send regular requests, is 2.5 calls a minute. This app appears to be updating far more quickly than that, so unless we have our numbers wrong, we’d guess the NYT has a backstage pass here.

View the deceptively simple source and .js files on the NYT Labs site. Also look for the special warning about sharks.