Twitter’s new tools could lead to better third-party apps

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  • Twitter has introduced an API that gives third-party apps considerably more power.
  • Conversation threads, poll results, spam filtering and other features are finally available elsewhere.
  • These apps still won’t be as powerful as the official clients.

Third-party Twitter apps have usually missed on out key features of the official software, but that gap is about to close.

After a delay due to high-profile account hacks, Twitter has released a new v2 developer API that lets third-party apps on Android, iOS, and elsewhere use many of the features you might take for granted from the social network, including conversation threading, pinned tweets on profiles, poll results, stream filtering, and spam filtering.  Unofficial apps and websites should behave more like you expect.

Twitter is also changing how it offers access to the toolkit. Instead of having three separate platforms, there’s one common framework — creators just choose the amount of access they need. A Standard track is meant for “getting started,” teaching, or just for fun. The upcoming Academic Research path will provide advanced or even custom access to help study the “public conversation.” Companies, meanwhile, can use a Business track to develop full-featured apps or gather enterprise data.

Read more: The best Twitter apps for Android

This still doesn’t put your favorite third-party app on par with the official Twitter client, though. Twitterific’s Sean Heber noted that many of the new features don’t involve posting tweets, and the stream features aren’t true replacements for a streaming timeline. You might not see a preferred app deliver a live feed or push notifications like you’d hope for.

Usage caps could also restrict many apps.

This is an initial release as part of an Early Access program, though, and the existing API isn’t going away very soon. This hints at a future where you can have the advantages of a third-party app without making as many sacrifices. If nothing else, it’s an acknowledgment that Twitter’s war against developers may have hurt more than it helped.

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