Twitter refreshes app for #DickBar complaints

Ronny Kerr · March 9, 2011 · Short URL:

Less than a week after launching a new app for iPhone and iPad, Twitter makes a minor fix

Even for a company whose entire service is based on real-time communication, this is some fast action.
Just five days after making a considerable update to its app for iPhone and iPad, Twitter has bowed (slightly) to crowd complaints about the “Quick Bar” by altering its visibility in the middle of the stream: it will no longer overlap tweets in the timeline.
Lovingly dubbed the #DickBar by angry Twitter users, the Quick Bar was promoted as a minor aesthetic change that introduced trends into the stream. Upon first loading the Twitter app, users would see the Bar displayed near the top of the screen; once the user started scrolling, the Bar would (strangely?) disappear and be transported to the top of the stream. Users could cycle through trends by swiping left and right.
There were at least two major problems with the Quick Bar.
For one, it covered up tweets. When the Twitter team went to redesign the main website for #NewTwitter, the utmost importance was placed on preserving the sanctity of the stream. Don’t mess with it, it’s what makes Twitter wonderful.

Secondly, the Bar just wasn’t well-made, it didn’t seem to want to stay put. It would show up on launch and then with a glitchy little flicker just vanish. Confusing.

Finally, because of the aforementioned design flaws, some figured that the Quick Bar was just Twitter’s rushed solution to get more Promoted Products into the mobile stream. Sure enough, Promoted Trends were showing up in the Bar. And when you start covering up tweets with paid advertising, you have to expect users to get pissed.

After you update to the latest Twitter release, the Quick Bar will still be there, but it will no longer cover up tweets. Besides the Quick Bar fix, the new app version fixes crashing issues, security issues and increases performance for users with multiple accounts.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.

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