Twitter has ended beta testing of the User Streams and portion of its Twitter Streaming API and brought it into regular production. While we've seen some clients take advantage of the User Streams, such as TweetDeck, the real-time Web is about to get a lot more real-time.
Previously, third-party Twitter clients had a limited number of times they could request updates from Twitter, which meant there was a lag between when someone posted an update and you saw it in your client. A client would only check so often for updates to make sure that it didn't run out of requests.
From the email to the Twitter dev list:
After an uneventful beta test period, the User Streams feature of the Twitter Streaming API is now in regular production. As with all production APIs, material changes will be pre-announced and non-backward-compatible changes will be avoided. Developers may release products against the production endpoint at http://userstream.twitter.com/2/user.json.
While User Streams is most useful for Desktop Clients, experimentation in other use cases is encouraged. Note that service integrations, such as websites and other server-based systems, must not open more than a very small number of User Streams. Instead, services must use Site Streams. Follow the product selection guide, http://dev.twitter.com/pages/streaming_api#product to select the correct product and avoid access interruptions.
By putting both of these into production, we can expect to see many more real-time experiments using the Twitter API. The recent redesign of Twitter.com debuted a site run off the Streaming API, showing a deeper commitment by Twitter to supporting the API. As the company noted in a recent email to the developers list, running Twitter off the API meant increased user testing, among other things.
For the Platform team in particular, this was an important event. With #newtwitter using the API all users will become API consumers, providing valuable feedback about issues they encounter, helping us isolate and fix problems that are found.
When creating #newtwitter the value of this was clear. A heightened level of visibility & communication with our engineers enabled us to reproduce and fix many of the API bugs you've encountered and reported to us.