Twitter looks to lure in developers with new mobile SDK

Twitter also debuts Digits, which replaces passwords with phone numbers

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
October 22, 2014
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/39ea

As with every social network, Twitter's future depends on getting both users, and advertisers, onto mobile. And that future will depend on giving developers a reason to build apps onto Twitter's platform. 

That is why the company has introduced Fabric, a new set of APIs that are aimed at making it easier for developers to create apps on the platform, which was revealed at Flight, its first ever mobile developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. 

In a blog post, Twitter called Fabric "a modular mobile platform that makes it easy for developers to build great apps." 

"The Fabric platform is made of three modular kits that address some of the most common and pervasive challenges that all app developers face: stability, distribution, revenue and identity," the company said.

  • The first kit addressed stability, and is called Crashlytics. It helps developers find out why their app crashed, how many of their users are affected, what the conditions were and where to look. Finding out this information "is vital to the success of your app. But it can be a frustrating and complicated process," Twitter said. 

The Kit combines Crashlytics, Beta (which helps developers get feedback on their app before it ships) and Answers (which offers real-time, optimized app analytics).

  • To help with distribution, the company is introducing the Twitter Kit, which includes Native Tweet embeds, Tweet composer, and Sign-in With Twitter.

"Getting noticed is often as difficult as getting a high-quality app shipped. Between iOS and Android, there are over two million apps available," the company wrote. "With that in mind, we’re announcing the Twitter Kit, which includes three new products to help you tap into Twitter to get the growth you want."

  • Finally, there is the MoPub Kit, which "makes it simple to integrate ads into your apps with just a few clicks."

It serves ads directly to developers from advertisers, lets them work with multiple ad networks, and tap into thousands of high-quality advertisers, who will then compete for their app against other ad partners on MoPub’s exchange. It supports all major ad formats including banners, interstitials, video and native ads.

  • Another part of the Twitter Kit that was also announced at the conference was Digits, which gives developers a way to allow users to sign in to their apps and websites without them having to use a password. 

To login, users just have to use their phones number in order to get a confirmation code. Users can manage their Digits accounts online, and enable two-factor authentication.

Twitter also revealed Digits Web APIs, which makes it easier to integrate Digits into websites, and "Friend Finding with Digits," which enabled users to find other Digits users in your apps that they know by using their address book. 

Twitter reversal

All of this is big reversal from the decision that Twitter made a couple of years ago to update its API to limit third-party apps on the site. The idea, the company said at the time, was “to ensure that Twitter users have a consistent experience wherever they see and interact with Tweets.”

But now Twitter is openly embracing third-party developers. So what fostered this change? Well, since that time the company went public and has also seen significant growth on mobile.

In the most recent quarter, Twitter saw mobile monthly average users increase 29% year to year, and 7% quarter to quarter, to 211 million. Mobile MAUs represented 78% of the company's total MAUs.

Obviously Twitter needs to capitalize on that, and it wasn't going to get anywhere by shunning and angering the developer community.

(Image source: blog.twitter.com)

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