announced a new version of its app for Android today, which it says is now one of the top 5 most popular ways to access Twitter. The new version is easier to read updates on without having an account, has more granular search options and interface more like the one iPhone owners see.Twitter
What may be most notable though is the abscence of new features. Twitter for iPhone got push notifications for @ mentions and direct messages a whole three months ago. Twitter said at the time that it hoped to add push to Android soon, but it's not in this new version. Also missing: any ability to log in to multiple accounts. Other power-user features may or may not come to Twitter's official app someday, but the abscence of official push notifications is a real loss.
Twitter on Android does perform periodic polling for replies, but it's not in real time like real push notifications and users complain about the cost to battery life.
Perhaps Twitter aims its own app at the most mainstream of users, the people it imagines mostly reading Tweets from famous people and a few friends or family, and assumes the rest of us feature-hungry types will get our fix from 3rd party apps. That could be a good strategy.
Last September we interviewed a number of User Experience experts from throughout the tech industry about what push notifications would mean for the iPhone. I think the most important response came from Aviel Ginzburg, UX guy at Seattle-based Untitled Startup, makers of Twitter bulk-conversation analysis tool RowFeeder. I think Ginzburg's predictions for what iPhone push would mean to Twitter users have proven correct. Check them out and ask yourself, "ought not Android users be offered this as well?"
"Those of us who have been using Twitter since the days that it was largely (entirely) text messaging driven perceive Twitter much differently than mainstream users.
"Two days ago I was having coffee with a friend of mine, who has been on Twitter for a little over a year (tweets everyday, DMs, @replies people, and even owns an iphone w/Twitter for iPhone) and as my phone beeped over and over again, she asked me if something was wrong. I said no, I just get my DMs text messaged to my phone. Her response was, 'you can do that?!'
"She has been using Twitter like people use Facebook, as a way to consume (mainly) and share content in a 'on your own time' fashion. When she uses Twitter, she really uses it, but in controlled bursts when she is physically engaging.
"The way that the site has been restructured in the past several months including the new search, celebrity, and brand focus, categories, featured tweets, promotions, etc have drawn in the mainstream in such a way that they aren't perceiving Twitter in the way that the early adopters do - as a real-time communication platform that will one day replace text messaging, email, and even phone calls. Just look at the Twitter homepage... it's a text media consumption site.
"With the announcement of push notifications, they're bringing the messaging platform core value proposition back to the forefront, and pushing the mainstream, who joined Twitter for entirely different reasons, to experience Twitter in the same way us early adopters do -- as a real-time communication channel that you never disconnect from. The concern of course is: have these users really signed-up for entering a service where the are expected to be available and engaged at all times?
"It may seem like a small and logical update (cut out the text messaging middle-man), but really, Twitter is going to be dramatically changing the way its mainstreams users experience and use Twitter."
We asked Twitter for any details about push on Android. Their response, "nothing to share right now."