Twitter doesn't like you avoiding ads

The social network has announced tough new restrictions on how third-parties can build apps.

Twitter has announced in a post titled Delivering a consistent Twitter experience that developers producing third-party twitter apps need to start including all the major features of the branded Twitter apps and website. Michael Sippey writes:

We’re building tools for publishers and investing more and more in our own apps to ensure that you have a great experience everywhere you experience Twitter, no matter what device you’re using. You need to be able to see expanded Tweets and other features that make Twitter more engaging and easier to use. These are the features that bring people closer to the things they care about. These are the features that make Twitter Twitter. We're looking forward to working with you to make Twitter even better.

The proximal cause of the news is the launch of a new feature on Twitter, expanded tweets, which lets publishers show previews of what a tweet is linking to directly in the interface:

Yet really, the news goes to the heart of Twitter's strategy as a company. Like most companies of its pedigree, it makes money through advertising. It sells tweets, trends, and promotion in the "who to follow" box. But if you use a third party twitter app – that is, any app not made by twitter, like Tweetbot for iPhones, Hootsuite on the web, or Ubersocial on Android – you don't see those.

That is bad enough for the company, but up to now, the users of those apps are a minority on the service. The vast majority of twitterers use the website itself, or one of the official clients on mobile devices. So why should they care that nerds are going to be forced to do what they do normally?

Because Twitter aren't just trying to monetise the users they currently miss out on. They also want to – at the risk of being alarmist – block the exits.

In April 2010, the company acquired the developers of Tweetie, the then-most popular independent app (this was at a time, hard as it is to believe, when they didn't have an official app), and rebranded it as the official app. Less than a year later, they introduced a feature known as the "quickbar". In terms of usability, it was one of the most obnoxious features added to the service since it's inception – an always-on view of the trending topics at the top of the screen which took up valuable space on the small phone.

The quickbar was such a failure that twitter pulled it from the app, in the fear of sparking an exodus to other clients, but at the same time as backtracking on that, the company made its first ominous pronouncement on the future of third-party developers, warning them not to:

Build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.

This is, of course, what most apps do – they replace, rather than adding to, what the official client can do – but for the last year, Twitter has stayed quiet on its threats. Until now. Next time Twitter introduces something similar to the quickbar, there will be nowhere to run.

They can take Tweetbot from our phones, but they'll never take it from our hearts. They'll just disable the API so it can't access the site.

The Twitter logo, manipulated.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Welcome to the new New Statesman website

We've had a makeover. We hope you like it!

In the past five years, the New Statesman website has grown beyond all our expectations. In 2010, barely half a million readers a month were visiting it; now, we regularly see around two million people. The way we read on the internet has changed in that time, too – more than half the people looking at our website are now doing so using a mobile phone or a tablet rather than their desktop computer. 

To reflect this shift, we have launched a new New Statesman website. The design is simple, clean and readable, as well as being optimised for screens small and large. There is a greater emphasis on images and typography. We have made the navigation more intuitive, so that it will be easier for you to find the features, columns and reviews you enjoy in the magazine online, as well as our web-only offering of fast-paced Westminster coverage, cultural comment and opinionated blogging. Above all, it is a place for reading, free of distraction and interruption.

The credit for the new website's design should go to New Statesman's development team - Sam Hall, Chris Boyle and Zoltan Hack (Chris even designed us a cute 404 page), with input from our design editor Erica Weathers. As you might have noticed, we are now using one of our magazine fonts (Unit Slab) for headlines, plus a body type that's similar to Documenta (Merryweather). 

On the editorial side, the project was led by our web editor Caroline Crampton, who spent many hours puzzling over the perfect taxonomy. Her attention to detail has been incredible. If you would like to give us any feedback, email me or Caroline on firstname.lastname@newstatesman.co.uk

So far, it's looking great - we've tripled the number of pages per visit, and increased dwell time on articles. But any update means that some features won't work quite how they used to, so here's a quick guide to what's new.

1. Our new homepage

The new front page is now mobile-optimised, and responsive across tablet and desktop. We're still fine-tuning it, but for now we're keeping things simple: a splash, three stories of the day, and better display for our popular Westminster-focused blog, the Staggers, edited by Stephen Bush. Further down, you'll find a mix of magazine and web-first content, plus links to our most popular stories, our podcasts, and our sister site CityMetric, edited by Jonn Elledge.

On mobile, we've stripped back the homepage - so if you want more options, then click the "hamburger" in the top right to see the full menu.

 

2. A longreads section

We now have a dedicated section for magazine features, and a special template for them, too. This means a much less cluttered reading experience, with more white space - perfect if you are settling down for 6,000 words on the menopause by Suzanne Moore, or the blockbuster last interview with Christopher Hitchens by Richard Dawkins

3. This Week's Magazine

We wanted to give a better sense of what's in the magazine every week, so we've created a dedicated page (here is last week's, Isis and the new barbarism, and here is this week's, Pope of the masses). You can click the arrow and cycle through past covers, to get a sense of the breadth of our interests. You can now see what's in every section, and which pieces are available online. As a rule, we currently publish the leader and columns online in the week of print publication, but reviews and articles are held back for up to seven days. That means the best way to get all our magazine content as soon as possible is to subscribe to the magazine, in paper form, on Kindle or iPad.  

4. Comments

We've disabled comments for launch as the unit can be unpredictable, but they'll be back soon. You'll need to click to expand them at the bottom of stories (otherwise they would have interfered with the infinite scroll - which allows you to move on to another story once you've finished reading the first one). 

5. Our writers

For 102 years, of our biggest strengths has always been our world-class writers - from HG Wells to Rebecca West to Martin Amis and Christopher Hitchens. We've now created a dedicated page where you can see our regular writers, both in print and online, and find links to their entire archives. 

6. Podcasts

As well as the main New Statesman podcast - which offers politics, culture and foreign affairs - Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz have recently launched SRSLY, a podcast which takes pop culture seriously. Recent topics include fandom, graphic novels and the politics of Harry Potter. You can subscribe here, and follow SRSLY on Twitter.

7. The Staggers

We've introduced a new unit on the homepage next to the splash, for the latest stories, and you can find the our rolling politics blog The Staggers underneath it. There's room on the homepage to display the three most recently published politics articles, so if you want a more in-depth look at the day's politics coverage, bookmark The Staggers' dedicated homepage

Anyway, we hope you like the new look - any feedback, drop me or Caroline a line by email or on Twitter.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.