Twitter's dev team and its app community must be working overtime at the moment—there seems to be a flurry of news about improvements, whole new features and various spit-and-polish activity. We've rounded it up for you.
U.K.'s Tweeps To Be on TV's Cutting Edge?
This is possibly the biggest news of the day, and it comes courtesy of one of Britain's big mobile phone operators Orange. The company today switched on its SMS-Twitter link, joining the other big national networks, but also added in a whole new feature: MMS picture sharing. The feature was announced in Twitter's blog with the flattering phrase "The U.K. has had an outsized cultural impact on the world. From music to sports to literature...and now—MMS with Twitter." It works by having cell phone users snap a pic with their phone, then send it to a special number that's linked to Orange's photo sharing Snapshot site. From there it gets Tweeted like a pic through regular systems like Twitpic—but in this case it's perfect for the legion of tweens who have feature phones that can't do smartphone full-Twitter tricks.
No surprises that image-integration into Tweets is becoming a big thing, though: Kodak (yes, really) has tapped the sharing power of Twitter, and struck up a partnership with Tweetphoto to boost real-time photo taking events and pic-sharing on the Web by co-developing apps.
But back to Orange, which handles cell phones in France, Spain, and Poland too: It also announced it's made deals with U.K. TV operators to integrate Twitter into news programs, films, regular TV shows, and (horror of horror!) football games. That's real football, with lots of foot-on-the-ball action—a sport held sacred by Brits. Hasn't Orange heard of Fox's terrible Glee and Fringe live TV-Twittering debacle? "We plan to enrich shows by allowing people to Tweet while the watch their favorite programmes" is how Orange's director development and partnerships, Stephanie Hospital, puts it. But toying with footie is a risky game, and if Orange messes it up like Fox did, then "hospital" may suddenly be a very apt word.
Proper People Search in Twitter Apps
Most people access Twitter via a desktop or smartphone-top third-party app rather than visiting its home site, but until now these have only had limited functionality to help you find people you know on Twitter. That's just changed, as Twitter's announced a some new custom API handles to improve the search experience.
The idea is that you'll be able to access the beefier search options offered in-site via the third-party software—things like search by business. This is likely to seriously improve Twitter's functionality as more and more businesses leap aboard the social media service to either promote, defend, or address problems with their wares.
Me-Tweet and Other Chaff Filtering by Klout
Klout is one of that cloud of outside-Twitter apps that offer you a service that tackles Tweets in a different way: Klout's trick is to calculate a metric that measures the influencing powers (clout, get it?) of individual Tweeps. The calculation is complex, but Klout suggests it's a good way to "find the people the world listens to" on the social Web. Right off the bat, that's a pretty clever way to filter through all the zero-content, zero-link and zero-importance me-Tweeters on the system.
But Klout's just added a new trick that takes it to a new level: By working with Twitter's new Lists function (and associated APIs) Klout also now lets you see the most influential Tweeters on a particular topic of choice, and then you can build a Twitter list of the results. It's a tool with massive potential, obviously. Say there's a breaking news item that's spreading over Twitter—you'd be able to fashion a list of the key influencing players in the piece without having to trawl through Twitter or read lots of me-too Tweets. It's exactly the kind of emergent use of Twitter that's making the site better and better...I wonder if Twitter will take it officially aboard, like it did for Re-Tweeting?
As we reported, and noted again last week, today the Xbox Live system is getting an update that'll integrate Facebook and Twitter powers directly into your online gaming experience. It's hard not to point out how important this might be for Twittering gamers.
The specially-tailored interface will let you do standard 140-character Tweets, and it'll be a valuable cross-over for gamers who are also into social media, but don't want to disconnect from their console. And that's to say nothing of the potential for game related Tweet conversations—boasts, challenges, and tricks'n'tips. With around 20 million gamers on Xbox Live, that could bring a whole new audience to Twitter too.
There is also confirmation today from Sony's blog that the PS3 is getting itself some mainstream social-media attention...with a basic Facebook integration. Are we crazy to assume that where Facebook apps go, a Twitter app will surely follow? I think not—the chaps at Sony are savvy.