There are just about as many Twitter apps as there are tweets, with many people opting out of using the official app for more able third-party solutions. However, those apps are about to fight a majorly uphill battle on the back of changes to the API that Twitter has just announced.
The announcement itself is pretty steeped in jargon (see the incomprehensible chart above), so here’s a bit of what I’ve been able to understand from other sources.
For one, Tweets have to be displayed in exactly the way that Twitter wants, and no other social functions can be added to a tweet. So you can’t append a “send to…” some other service type thing. Likewise, the timeline has to be displayed exactly as Twitter wants. This is aimed directly at “traditional Twitter posting clients” — read those that offer similar functionality to Twitter itself.
The other big shift is that apps are only allowed to have 100,000 users — if they’re already larger than that, then they’re allowed to double in size. You can get special permission from Twitter for going over that amount, but opinion is divided on how easy that will be. With untold millions of Twitter users, a 100,000 user cap essentially means that every third party app has a coral to stop it from growing to its full potential.
What this all amounts to is that if you use a Twitter app that isn’t made by Twitter itself, things are going to be pretty rough. While the extant apps will doubtless survive, some of their functionality will be curtailed, and their user base limited.
Watching how seriously Twitter enforces all these guidelines is going to be very interesting over the next few months. Keep a keen eye on your copy of Tweetbot.