November 16th, was a certainly an eventful day for Twitter. Apart from moving into a new office as tweeted by @twitter itself ‘Official pics from the shiny new Twitter HQ! http://bit.ly/2oVk85‘, other big developments took place as well.
People Search API for Third Party Apps – Now Search for People
Did you know that a large number of Tweeple do not even visit the Twitter website? They use third party clients to do their business. TweetDeck, Echofon, HootSuite, Disgby, etc for Computers and Tweetie (iPhone), UberTwitter (BlackBerry), ceTweet (WinMo), etc for smartphones are some of the more popular clients.
While these clients provided some interesting features such as Tweet Statistics, intergration with Facebook and good user experience compared to the otherwise ‘vanilla’ Twitter website. They lacked one of the most basic features that one would expect – The ability to search for People.
However that could change very soon. Twitter posted on its Google Group the news that every Twitter App Developer was aching to see -
‘For a while now Twitter.com has had a “Find People” button that allows users to search for other people to follow. Starting today we’re exposing that functionality over the API as well — take a look at the new endpoint that we’re calling the “Find People API”: http://apiwiki.twitter.com/Twitter-REST-API-Method%3A-users-search ‘
There are two Twitter APIs. One called the Search API, containing functions for developers to interact with Twitter Search and Results. The other aptly called the ‘Rest’ because it contains the functions for just about everything else on Twitter.
Twitter has always maintained some sort of control over the usage of it’s APIs (rate limiting etc) and Find People is no different. While it will return the same results as the ‘Find People’ button on the website, only the first 1000 can be read by the API.
This missing feature was probably the only piece missing in the Twitter Client Jigsaw. With this generous move by Twitter, it is only a matter of time before your favourite client adds a ‘People Search’ feature and feels complete. I can’t wait!!
UK First! Tweeters get MMS Support
Another story breaking from the Twitter camp, other than the new office is San Francisco and Find People API, was the availability of MMS support for UK Tweeters. The deal, aptly announced on the Twitter Blog by it’s Director, Mobile Products – Kevin Thau, is a first of its kind for the company.
Until now, in 2009 Twitter has announced SMS deals in India, Indonesia, UK, Canada and New Zealand (To get a better idea of the number of SMS deals this year TwitterBlog and search for SMS). MMS could be the new way forward for Twitter.
This feature will be available to Orange Twitter users in UK. All they have to do is send picture messages to a designated number and the photo will be posted in their stream. The central piece in this setup is a photo site maintained by Orange UK - SnapShot. This is where the pictures will be hosted and the link will be tweeted out by the service.
As is the case with all their SMS deals, Twitter is not levying any extra charge for this service. However, standard carrier charges still apply to the messages.
This could be bad news for companies like TwitPic, that rely on doing the same thing – helping users post pictures to Twitter. The general perception in blogosphere seems to be that it is unlikely this feature will be rolled out into other markets anytime soon. If Orange benefits largely from this move, then it wont be long before other carriers express their interest. For now though, TwitPic and the likes, can breathe easy!