Around this time last year at CES, Twitter introduced ‘twttr,’ its public prototype app. The new app allowed the social media company to develop and experiment with new features and test the changes in public to see what worked and what didn’t.
To date, the app’s primary focus has been the development of improved conversation views and making threaded conversations easier to read. Now, those features will come to the official Twitter app, starting with the iOS app and followed by the web and Android sometime in Q1 2020.
Some of the changes include highlighting when the author of the original tweet replies within a conversation thread, as well as people you follow and verified users. This should make it easier to see who’s participating in a conversation. Further, Twitter will roll out other changes based on threaded conversations, such as an updated appearance.
One interesting change is what happens when you tap on a tweet in a thread. Previously, tapping on a tweet opened a new page where that tweet is highlighted with slightly bigger text and emphasis on who that tweet is replying to. Now, tapping on a tweet in a thread won’t open a new page. Instead, it increases the spacing around the selected tweet, adding a slight background to it. It expands on new icons to show if you’re following the person or if they started the conversation and let you view other details.
Further, tapping into a tweet lets users reply in-line to it, and in-line tweets are a different shade to help differentiate it from other tweets.
Threaded conversations will hide some replies to help keep things easy to read. Twitter says it personalizes which replies it shows and which it does based on who you follow, interact with and more. Users can click to load more replies as they scroll.
I’ve been using the twttr prototype on my phone for some time now and I find participating in conversations much more enjoyable than on the regular Twitter app, if for no other reason than it looks better. However, Twitter didn’t do much else with the prototype app, which is a bit disappointing.
With threaded conversations making their way to Twitter, the social media company plans to use twttr to experiment with other conversational features. For example, it may test how small tweaks to the UI can influence different user behaviour.