The audience in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was restless and fidgety. The 10 a.m. start time had come and gone, but Twitter’s 2015 developer conference had yet to kick off. Attendees who were live tweeting the event begged their followers for patience.
They did not have to wait long. At 10 minutes past the hour, music and an introductory video began to play. Finally, Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey appeared onstage to deliver the keynote address. To the surprise of many, Dorsey began with an apology.
“Somewhere along the line,” he said, “our relationship with developers got confusing, unpredictable.” He wanted to apologize for the confusion. He wanted to “reset our relationship and make sure that we’re learning, listening, and that we are rebooting.”
What is Twitter Flight?
Twitter Flight 2015 was the second annual Twitter developer conference, which took place in San Francisco on October 21. Somewhere around a thousand developers, journalists, and devotees of the social media platform attended the event, and were the first to hear of new developments and Dorsey’s plans to make Twitter great.
It was Dorsey’s first notable public appearance since he formally accepted the permanent position of CEO on October 5. His goal during the conference was to convince developers that they should continue supporting and expanding Twitter’s platform.
A Recap of Announcements
In the first post-lunch session, developers from Fabric Labs—part of Twitter’s development arm—walked attendees through a typical week as an app developer, and highlighted numerous ways attendees and their teams could improve the quality of their apps and shorten their time-to-market.
Support for the Unity Game Development Engine
They also announced that Twitter will henceforth support the Unity game development engine with several new services, most notably Twitter Kit, an “integration toolset,” that lets game developers add Twitter capabilities to their games. Quite simply, this means that gamers will be able to “talk trash” to their competitors in real time via their app’s embedded Twitter functionality.
In addition, Unity developers will be able to use Fabric Labs’ Crashlytics—a bug analytics suite—to read data from crash reports and to chart and build visual data modules from them. Finally, Unity developers will have access to MoPub, Fabric Labs’ advertisement integration toolset.
Twitter’s “Digits” Project Makes Passwords Obsolete
“Digits” is Twitter’s login product, which debuted around this time last year during the first Twitter Flight developer conference. A year later, nearly 4,000 apps support the product.
Digits is a safer and simpler way of authenticating users’ identities. The Digits blog explains: “When we launched Digits last year, our goal was to make phone verification incredibly simple for developers around the globe.
The product originally required a phone number; it would verify the number belonged to the user and allow entry without requiring a password. It did not operate flawlessly, but app developers reported an 85% success rate when users logged in using Digits technology.
Twitter announced during the conference that users may now input an email address, instead. VentureBeat summarizes: “Digits tries to universalize the way we gain access to our favorite apps, using two pieces of information we’d never lose: our phone numbers, and now our email addresses.”
Twitter Publish—New Showcase for Embedded Tweets
“Publish” is a new, free tool available in beta that lets companies package and display tweets in visually powerful ways. Companies with a web presence need a “visual storytelling tool to truly engage your users,” Twitter explains, “so we’ve built an embedded grid which displays your curated content in a rich, responsive, media-forward format.”
The tool features a powerful WYSIWYG editor, and the resultant display looks terrific on desktop, laptop, and mobile web, according to Michael Ducker, head of product for embedded tweets at Twitter.
The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project
The mobile web is slow. Page loading can feel like molasses on a cold day. Because of this, many content publishers want newer, nimbler alternatives. Unfortunately, these alternatives are specific to a particular platform, and this results in fragmenting formats.
Twitter’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project is “an initiative to improve the mobile web and enhance the distribution ecosystem. If content is fast, flexible and beautiful, including compelling and effective ads, we can preserve the open web publishing model as well as the revenue streams so important to the sustainability of quality publishing.”
In short, the project is an attempt to revise HTML to optimize mobile pages for instant loading on iPods, tablets, mobile phones, and other handheld devices. It utilizes existing online tech, so publishers can continue hosting content on their own sites, customizing UX for their particular customer base, and integrating ads as they see fit. All of this activity takes place within an overarching technical framework that’s built for speed.
What It Means for Marketing
The takeaway for marketers is that, as always, technology is moving forward in leaps and bounds. To compete in the new environment, you must stay alert and informed; be ready to take advantage of sudden opportunities. The mobile web, which is increasing in importance every quarter, will become an even more important marketing arena in the coming year.
Through the AMP project, mobile web pages will load faster, so you must be prepared to take advantage of that technology to keep your customers happy. Do not let your competition beat you to the punch. The increased speed should allow you to load more information on a page to better target your audience.
Moreover, marketers now face competition in an unusual arena: your login screen. More than 4,000 apps support the new and improved Twitter Digits; if yours does not, you may lose the battle before your users even log in.
What It Means for Small Businesses
The announcements out of Twitter Flight 2015 are particularly important for small businesses. The new Twitter Publish tool is an inexpensive—in fact, free!—way to improve the look and content of your site. The embedded tweet frame looks fantastic on both desktop and mobile devices, and this is crucial because of the constantly increasing importance of your mobile web efforts.
As mentioned above, small businesses need to take advantage of improvements in the page load speeds available through Twitter’s AMP project. As visitors become more used to modern technologies, they become more impatient with delays.
In a similar vein, app developers and online services should be careful not to be left behind at the log-in. Be sure to embrace the (increasingly) seamless integration of Twitter Digits with your mobile apps. It offers your users a simpler, quicker log-in with information they are sure to have on hand. Digits uses an email address or phone number to log in, instead of a series of random numbers and letters. As the Digits blog says, “A better sign-in experience means a lower bounce rate, and ultimately a higher retention rate.”
Now that Twitter Flight has come and gone, businesses should embrace the new opportunities announced at the conference. After that, the next step is simply to look forward to the—hopefully—game changing opportunities and technological advances Twitter will announce at next year’s conference, Twitter Flight 2016.
Until then, keep your head up and your eyes open.