When Twitter announced its new API guidelines a couple of weeks ago, it identified a certain category of app that it was unhappy with. These are apps that targeted consumers, and enabled users to interact with Tweets. One of the apps specifically called out as one of the problem apps was Tweetbot.
Twitter professes to want to limit outside developers so that users will not be subjected to poorly designed and useless apps. While this may be partially true, it seems clear that at least part of the reason Twitter is also making these changes in order to streamline its website, and stop third party developers from growing off of Twitter’s userbase.
Now, the first blow against a third party app has been struck.
Tapbot has pulled the alpha version of Tweetbot for Mac, the company said on its blog on Monday, citing problems its had getting around the new guidelines set by Twitter.
Tweetbot is meant to enhance the Twitter experience on iOS with features including multiple account switching, in-timeline viewing of images, push notifications, and the ability to mute certain followers and topics in the timeline view.
The problems arose from new limitations on the number of user tokens the company would be allowed.
Going forward, applications that have more than at least 100,000 users will have to work directly with Twitter on their product, policies and service agreement. Those that already have more than 100,000 user can only grow to 200% of their current size before they will contact Twitter.
If a user signed into an app with more than one account, that would count as multiple tokens. And getting one of those tokens back has become more difficult. User tokens do not expire and can only be revoked by the user by going to their Twitter settings.
Apps use the alpha stage to test out their apps, and to get word out about them. Twitter has now made that process more difficult.
Tapbots said that it had been trying to work with Twitter to get around the problem, but found that its efforts were fruitless.
“We’ve been working with Twitter over the last few days to try to work around this limit for the duration of the beta but have been unable to come up with a solution that was acceptable to them. Because of this we’ve decided its best for us to pull the alpha,” Tapbot said.
It is not surprising that negotiations with Twitter did not go anywhere, as Twitter seemed to have it out for Tweetbot from the very beginning.
When it debuted the new guidelines, Twitter released a chart that was divided into four categories. Three of these categories, Twitter VP of Product Michael Sippey, said were good. One category was bad.
“With our new API guidelines, we're trying to encourage activity in the upper-left, lower-left and lower right quadrants, and limit certain use cases that occupy the upper-right quadrant,” he said.
Who was in the dreaded upper right hand corner?
“That upper-right quadrant also includes, of course, ‘traditional’ Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Echofon,” Sippey said, blasting those apps for not adhering to Twitter’s guidelines.
“Nearly eighteen months ago, we gave developers guidance that they should not build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. And to reiterate what I wrote in my last post, that guidance continues to apply today.”
It’s clear that Twitter has no lover for Tweetbot, but it will not be able to get rid of the app that easily, as Tapbot made it clear that it is not doing away with Tweetbot for Mac entirely, just revoking the alpha stage.
“Just to be perfectly clear, Tweetbot for Mac will still be available for sale in the near future, we are just stopping the public part of the alpha/beta testing. We wish we could continue on but we didn’t make the rules, we just have to live within them.”
Tweetbot may have been the first third party app affected by Twitter's new restrictions, but they will definitely not be the last.
Twitter and Tapbots were not available for comment
(Image source: doobybrain.com)