Reports surfaced earlier this week that UberMedia, maker of several popular Twitter clients, is working on a new service to rival the current king of microblogging. Even if the news turns out to be untrue or exaggerated, there are innumerable ways a future microblogging service could improve upon Twitter.
Here are just a few:
Controversy, right from the get-go. There's an ongoing debate between tech fiends as to whether there's real value in maintaining the 140-character limit on tweets. Born out of the text messaging character limit (minus 20 for user names), the "feature" has been defended by Twitter co-founder and former CEO Evan Williams with the argument that restraint actually encourages creativity. True enough, but shouldn't we just let users restrain themselves, if they so choose? Generally, I'm in favor of giving users choice, and we should be able to say more in a single tweet, plain and simple. (Maybe call them "birdsongs" if they're more than 140 characters...)
A third party has already developed this already, but I just feel like it would be better in-house: a way to see who unfollowed you on Twitter recently.
Better trending topics
The last major release of Twitter for iPhone, complete with a poorly designed Quick Bar for displaying trending topics, brought this grievance right back to the surface: trending topics kind of suck. Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper and former lead developer of Tumblr, puts it best: "It’s a news ticker limited to one-word items, lacking any context, broadcasting mostly topics that I don’t understand, recognize, or care about. It’s nonsensical. At worst, it can offend. At best, it will confuse." Offensive, check. Confusing, check. There has to be a better way to make trending topics relevant without removing the appeal of something happening en masse in real-time.
Kill the bots
You heard me. Or, at least, let users have an option of automatically denying them as followers or seeing them anywhere on the site.
Banish the private tweeter
This one was actually a suggestion made by a friend of mine, who hated the fact that she had to await my approval to see tweets from my private account, whereas I could instantly see every one of her tweets all I wanted. That said, completely getting rid of private accounts seems a little over the top. Maybe there should be a system in place such that, if you follow someone from a private account, they can automatically see your tweets too.
How often do you like a tweet? It might not be so utterly hilarious enough to favorite and it might not be something you're about to retweet to all your followers, but you just... like it. All the time, right? That's why I think Twitter should bake in a little "Like" or "Thumbs up" button, for all those good tweets that get lost to the stream.
Zeitgeist, RSS feeds, download the stream--the list goes on and on.
If you can think of others, either post them in the comments or tweet them with hashtag #TheRealNewTwitter. Let's see what we can come up with!