Twitter has long had a strange contempt for third-party Twitter apps, but many of them are allowed to stay under the radar in recent years. This will change this summer when Twitter revokes an important access the developer currently has on duty by replacing it with a new access system that limits their options. The changes will not make useless third-party Twitter clients, but they will make the apps a little worse off.
The changes, coming into force on August 1
The first change means that the Twitter timeline needs to be updated manually. This is not necessarily a huge deal on mobile because you're probably used to updating the timeline anyway. Luke Klinker, developer of Android Twitter client Talon, said that only 2 to 3 percent of its users ever enabled auto-refresh or streaming to Twitter client vendors, as it would affect battery power. Craig Hockenberry, a senior engineer at Iconfactory making Twitterific, said it would be a bigger problem in some scenarios, like watching an event on TV. "Refreshing works in these cases, but is embarrassing and feels slow," he writes in an email to The Verge .
On the desktop, missing streaming could be a bigger problem. Twitter apps can still request that your timeline be updated, but they can only do it that often. If you're the kind of person who absolutely has to see every tweet in the second she's tweeted, that's going to be a problem.
But for some users, it may still be okay. Tapbot co-founder Paul Haddad, who stands behind the Mac and iOS Tweetbot app, says his apps are already set up to "update" Twitter on a regular basis when a user has turned off streaming. "As an anecdote, we let users go without streaming for months, for one reason or another," he writes in an email to The Verge .
Push notifications could be more of a problem. Mobile devices sound like they are either disappearing or severely limited. Klinker never had access to the developer tools that allow push notifications, so the Talon app has never supported them. He was able to create workarounds, such as when the app occasionally requests updates in the background, but not all types of notifications can be received, which in turn relieves the battery.
That's an annoying change, especially since the kind of people who download third-party Twitter apps are probably the kind of people who want to get involved on Twitter. It could also be a big problem for Twitterific, which is available for free on iOS but requires $ 3 to access notifications. This in-app purchase, according to Tom Sean Heber, an engineer at Iconfactory, is Twitterific's "primary revenue stream". The feature is essentially interrupted or at least partially interrupted as soon as Twitter has made these changes. "So that's a big problem," he wrote in a tweet.
Notifications are limited on the desktop, but not so dramatically. Haddad says "Like" and "Retweet" notifications on Tweetbot for Mac stop working and other notifications are postponed by one to two minutes.
There may be other unexpected problems as well. Heber said it was still unknown if direct messages would work on the phone. Haddad said he expected mobile issues to be mainly about push notifications, but he was not ready to pinpoint the exact implications.
Twitter will provide developers with an opportunity to purchase access to a new API that will enable all the old-fashioned real-time features. But the service seems to be extremely limiting and prohibitively expensive for consumer app developers. I suspect that it is probably intended for companies that analyze data or provide financial services; something that can be sold for a lot more money. Twitter's pricing is $ 11.60 per user per month, and only if an app does not exceed 250 users. More than that and they have to negotiate a deal for better access. And given Twitter's well-known lack of interest in third-party Twitter apps, this may not be an option for developers.
While developers are not thrilled Twitter has changed, it sounds like they're not too shaken. "Of course, we would prefer to continue offering things in real time as best we can, but not being able to do so is not the end of the world," said Haddad.
Klinker said most Talon users and other current Android Twitter apps will not notice any changes since they were never able to access push notifications anyway. They will also not get new Twitter features, he said, as surveys. "My users will not see any changes, but Twitter has curtailed what I thought was possible for the future," he wrote. Klinker said he was thrilled with the API changes as he finally granted his app access to notifications, but Twitter's pricing makes it clear that push notifications for third-party apps are the last thing Twitter wants to use these APIs for "Which is disappointing"
Twitterific for iOS was supposed to continue "mostly without push, in theory," Heber wrote, saying that Iconafactory "still expects the app to run with limited functionality for as long as possible."  "One thing that Twitter does not understand: Many people who use our apps are long time users who are very dedicated to the service," Hockenberry said. "These people are not well served by the official customer and are likely to find another one Focal point for their social media needs. "