Twitter is deeply integrated into the upcoming code refresh for iPhones and iPads, iOS 5, Apple announced today. One-touch tweeting is a handy kick for Apple's social networking plans, but potentially a massive strap-on rocket booster for Twitter.
As part of the keynote address at WWDC 2011 Scott Forstall, head of iPhone software development and a potential successor to Steve Jobs himself, revealed 10 new features of the 5th generation operating system for iPhones and iPads. Among them, a close integration with Twitter at an OS level, bringing the ability to share something on Twitter down to the level of almost a single tap of the finger.
Twitter has a single sign-on, like most iOS services because the conceit is the phone or iPad only has one primary user, but that's actually powerful: Whenever a "tweet" link is available, it simplifies the process to simply clicking on the button—no sign-on, no swapping to another app is needed. It's integrated into the contacts app, into Camera and Photos so you can instantly share a snapped shot (imagine the implications for citizen journalism and news-breaking on Twitter).
This means that you’ll be able to sign in to your Twitter account once and then tweet with a single tap from Twitter-enabled apps, including Apple’s apps—Camera, Photos, Safari, Contacts, YouTube, and Maps. And developers of all of your favorite apps can easily take advantage of the single sign-on capability, letting you tweet directly from their apps too.
There was so much content in Forstall's speech (including a direct assault on Instapaper's business with iOS's new "Reading List") that he practically skipped over the news, but it's worth noting that Reading List articles you've "saved" for later can also be tweeted out, so you can share with your followers things that your attention has been grabbed by.
Basically, this deep wiring-in of Twitter gives iOS a clever social sharing angle that it really needs to keep abreast of the social networking world. Since so many iDevices are being used—25 million iPads alone, we learned today—this is an incredible opportunity for Twitter to appeal to more users across a bigger demographic, and to develop its skills as a content and news sharing and discovery system. And Apple does this all via the simple and fast Twitter 140-character status mechanisms, rather than involving Facebook's UI and (potentially) more wordy updates.
Essentially, without any need for rebranding or multiple phone versions, the iPhone has become partly the Twitterphone. A sharp peck in the eye for Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebookphone ambitions...
[Image: Flickr user williamhook]