Twitter is working on a new feature called Project Lighting that it hopes will help it garner a whole new set of users, according to BuzzFeed’s Mat Honan.
In many ways, Lightning appears to be an evolution of Twitter’s hashtag system. Once it goes live, it will highlight event-based content using tweets, photos and videos that load instantly. Launching on the iPhone first, Twitter will add a new button to its official app that will allow users to access this content.
Many of the events Twitter plans to feature are ones that people already tweet about on a regular basis—for example, the Oscars, NBA Finals and so on—though breaking events—like this morning church shooting in South Carolina—will also be included. The company will have a team dedicated to picking the best content to share.
The presentation of this content will also be handled differently. Instead of seeing a regular timeline of tweets, users will be presented with a list of events they can follow. After clicking on a event that interests them, they will see a stream of tweets, pictures and videos that will take up the entirety of their smartphone screen. Moving between different pieces of content will be accomplished with a simple swipe.
“There’s amazing content, for example, posted to Throwback Thursday every single Thursday,” said Kevin Well, the company’s head of product, to Honan. “But it’s hard to discover it; you have to work as a user to go and find the best stuff, but [we] can do it easily and can package it richly.”
Users will also have the option to mix in Project Lightning tweets into their regular timeline, though Twitter apparently envisions Project Lightning as something meant to capture new users. The logic goes that hashtags can be complicated for non-users to understand, and often times searching for one doesn’t actually surface any interesting tweets. By having a group of editors curate this content, Twitter hopes to get around this problem. Moreover, the company plans to make this content easy to embed on other websites and apps. So, even non-users will be able to see the best the platform has to offer, which will hopefully convince them to sign up for an account.
Project Lightning is expected to launch later this year.