I love Twitter. To death. I know a lot of people feel the same way. I guess that’s why Twitter lovers across the internets are in a tissy, freaking out after Twitter dropped a bomb on developers (and users) today when announcing their all new API guidelines. Why, you ask?
Well, let’s start with Twitter’s controversial move to limit the amount of users 3rd party Twitter apps can have before going official. That number: 100,000. With many popular Twitter apps in the Play Store garnering 500,000+ downloads, that doesn’t sound like much, does it? Let’s continue. Developers who currently serve over 100,000 users in their apps are allowed to grow their user base by another 200% before they’ll need to get permission from Twitter to continue. Also, 3rd party Twitter apps that come pre-installed on devices — like HTC’s Peep — will need to be green lit by Twitter before continuing.
Twitter also talked about limiting the amount of API calls apps can call before hitting their limit. Okay, that last part sounds scarier than it really is. Currently, Twitter lets you make 350 API calls an hour for doing Twitter-y stuff in your favorite Twitter apps like refreshing timelines, tweeting, retweeting, favoriting, sending DM’s and looking up hot girls’ profiles to find out if they’re a bot or not. This will soon change to — wait for it — 60. Hold on, hold on… Before you freak out, Twitter is really changing how they’re managing API calls. So, instead of grouping all API calls altogether, they will now be split up. That means you will no longer hit your Twitter limit if you’re overactive in one area like tweeting, only to be blocked from doing other things like retweeting. For example, users will now be given 60 tweets, 60 retweets, 60 DM’s, etc.. When it comes to things like looking up profiles, searching or clicking on detailed info on tweets, Twitter will set this limit to a generously high 720. Tweet too much? No problem, send DM’s to people or simply reply to your friends.
Twitter is also cracking the whip on the look of Twitter apps, shifting their design guidelines to actual requirements. If not adhered to, developers can be blocked from using Twitter’s API’s altogether. Again, this sounds scarier than it really is. Twitter is simply making sure 3rd party apps display tweets properly. Thing like “reply, retweet, and favorite” are now required to appear in a tweet, and it must be properly linked to the user who tweeted it. Sounds pretty damn fair to me.
You may have noticed an underlying them to Twitter’s new demands on devs. All the above changes are just Twitter making sure their service isn’t being abused by spammers and otherwise malicious apps trying to scam their users. Twitter has made a great social network (my personal favorite) and they want to make sure it stays that way. The other reality is that on the server side, API calls cost Twitter money and if you want to make sure Twitter stays around for a long time (I know I do), you’ll welcome these changes rather than run for your torch and pitchfork.