Twitter updates mobile site and Mac client

Ronny Kerr · May 12, 2011 · Short URL: gets pretty, Twitter for Mac gets windows

Tweeters rejoice! Using Twitter just got a little bit better for Mac and mobile users.

The mobile Twitter site, found at, has been updated with the latest Web technologies, including HTML5, to look and feel more like a native app. Doing so brings the mobile site up to speed with the aesthetic seen on Twitter clients like Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Mac.

Only 2.6 percent of tweets originate from, according to the latest data from Sysomos, but there might be even more users who simply fire up Safari or other mobile browsers to quickly read up on their timeline.

Besides, some users with high-end touchscreen devices don’t have access to official Twitter apps and, of those that do, not all want to use them.

The app is fast – you can quickly scroll through your timeline, move between tabs and compose Tweets. It’s rich – it takes advantage of capabilities that high-end device browsers offer, such as touch gestures and a large screen. And it’s simple – it’s easy-to-use and has the features you’d expect from a Twitter application, including your timeline, @mentions, messages that you can read in conversation view, search, trending topics, lists, and more.

It’s kind of like Twitter’s version of

While not all users will see the new mobile site immediately, it will be gradually rolling out over the next few weeks. In the meantime, most users will see the existing version.

Also: we’re still waiting for the mobile Twitter site to get the always-on HTTPS security feature.

Twitter for Mac

Available to all users immediately from the Mac App Store, Twitter for Mac 2.1 brings a host of new features, including multi-window support, username and hashtag autocomplete, several design updates and more.

By clicking the “Window” menu and selecting “Open in New Window,” users can open any timeline in its own window. The majority of users will find this useful for seeing multiple timelines at once, but it can also be used to create a separate window just for mentions, messages or even searches.

Since users will have more windows open now, Twitter has added a bar to the top of each window so it’s easy to click between them. (Previously, the newest tweet was flush with the top of the app.) Other design additions include a hardly visible “New Tweet” button in the bottom left corner of the app, improved messages interface and improved user profiles.

Finally, when tweeting, users will see the app autocompleting usernames and hashtags for them.

Even less used than, Twitter for Mac accounts for 0.4 percent of originating tweets.

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes

Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs



Joined Vator on

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.