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Twitter – lost touch with the users?

It’s been an interesting few weeks for the social networking site, Twitter.

A few weeks ago, Twitter publishes a new version (3.3) of their iOS application. Amongst other changes, they introduced a very obtrusive and badly implemented quick bar feature which showed trending topics (including paid for ones) in a grey overlaid bar.

The feature seems to be universally hated and seems to have caused quite a backlash. Straight after the release, Twitter streams and blog feeds are awash with complaints of the so called “Dickbar” – so called after Chicagoan Dick Costolo, the (relatively) new CEO of Twitter.

Twitter reacted quite quickly and released an update which makes the feature slightly less annoying but doesn’t get rid of it. In amongst the flurry of complaints about the bar, i’ve seen a number of people who have changed to 3rd party applications or have resolved to stick with the older version of the application to avoid getting the bar.

In relation to this, I recently read an interesting article by Oliver Cameron entitled R.I.P Tweetie. Tweetie was originally a 3rd party Twitter client written by developer Loren Brichter and his company, Atebits. Tweetie became a vastly popular Twitter client, especially after the release of the 2nd major version, Tweetie 2. I remember purchasing Tweetie 2 a few hours after it’s release and have not really used another Twitter client since. Some of his UI elements, for example the ‘pull down to refresh’ method have become almost a standard user interface element across a lot of different iOS applications. In April 2010, Twitter announced that it had purchased Tweetie and Loren would be employed by them to work on the app. Oliver explains in his article that Loren was a widely respected and competent developer and some of the traites in the latest updates to Twitter for iOS do not exhibit the same quality that Loren would usual be known for.

As if the whole ‘Dickbar’ saga was not enough bad publicity, Twitter yesterday announced that despite their application originating as a third party client, they are now clamping down on 3rd party applications. Fred Oliveira has some interesting thoughts on this in his post, “Dear Twitter“. I quote:

PS: for a company that cares about user experience as your roadmap email mentioned, you have certainly weirded a few people out (me included) with #Dickbar. Have you lost touch with what people really want?

EDIT: a few more interesting posts have come out recently:

  • Twitter angers third-party developers with ‘no more timelines’ urging
  • Here’s Why Developers Are Scaring Twitter
  • Marco Arment has also come out with an interesting post.

    EDIT – April 2011: Twitter have released a new version of the app with the Quick Bar removed!

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