Twitter is not only going after Facebook’s user base, but is copying its Android release schedule, too.
The newly-public company is launching an Alpha testing program for Android users to dogfood pre-prerelease software that will eventually make it to the beta and, ideally, the public release. Facebook launched a beta program earlier this year, and then followed up with an Alpha program, though it’s unclear whether they have released anything for it.
Twitter’s beta releases started out slow, but have since introduced new designs that have wildly vacillated in terms of usability and stability. Initially, there was a left-side navigation bar that allowed quick access to the various sections of the app; then it was nixed for a simpler scrolling bar on top. Soon after, that too was abandoned in favour of an even-simpler three-section menu — Home, Discover, Activity — with Notifications, DMs and Search added as non-text icons at the top of the screen.
Through 38 beta versions (to date), the Twitter for Android beta has also experimented wildly with the Tweet bar, disappearing app elements, photos and more. A couple betas ago, it began prompting users to “post photos from your Gallery,” showing three of the latest photos taken. Similarly, it’s adding “Top Tweets” that can be dismissed, separate from Sponsored Posts that cannot.
I am therefore extremely curious to see what Twitter will do with with the Alpha, which “will also give you an opportunity to provide direct feedback and collaborate with us via a forum, so you can take a more active role in testing out bugs.” The additions to the Android alpha and beta apps will also likely pave the way for what the company does to its iOS and Windows Phone versions, which have stayed, rather conservatively, unchanged for some months now.
The Alpha Program is a limited, first-come-first-served group, so be quick about it.