Twitter plays catch-up to Facebook with the launch of a better threaded commenting system, new mobile features.
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Twitter users have griped for years that the microblog doesn't make it easy to follow the back-and-forth of conversations. Traditionally, clicking the "view conversation" link below a user's tweet will display the conversation in reverse chronological order. Twitter is changing this, along with a handful of new features it announced Wednesday.
Up to three tweets will now be shown in chronological order on iPhone and Android apps, as well as on Twitter.com. To see the full conversation beyond the first few messages, tap the first tweet. Tweets in a conversation will be connected with a vertical line, the company said. This feature has already rolled out to some users.
"From buzz about the VMAs to debates around upcoming football games, people come to Twitter to take part in these real-time, global, public conversations," said Jinen Kamdar, product manager at Twitter, in a blog post. "To date, such exchanges haven't always been easy to follow. With this in mind, we've now made it easier for you to see conversations as they're taking place."
In addition, Twitter is adding a new capability to share conversations from Twitter.com via email. Your friends don't need to be Twitter users to read these conversations. Twitter is rolling out a similar capability to iPhone and Android users, which let you share only individual tweets via email. Android users can now send individual tweets to others via direct message, too.
Some say that Twitter's latest round of changes -- in particular its new way to display conversations -- is yet another step toward making Twitter more like Facebook. Its latest integrations of photo editing, music, video and Twitter Cards are elements similar to those that Facebook first launched.
Twitter also made changes to its Android app for entry-level smartphones with limited storage, including the Samsung Galaxy Y, HTC Explorer and Micromax Bolt. The app will be half its previous size, making it faster and easier to download and install. Android users and Twitter.com users will also receive the ability to report individual Tweets for abuse or spam, directly from the site or app. This feature is rolling out gradually, the company said. iPhone users already have this capability.
In addition to these interface changes, Trendrr, a social tracking TV service that competed with Twitter's in-house analytics products, announced Wednesday that it was acquired by Twitter. Trendrr said that it plans to honor existing partner contracts for Trendrr.TV, but will not establish new ones.
Reports indicate that Twitter may have purchased Trendrr to keep future social TV analytics deals away from Facebook, which has shown interest in the television space. Earlier this month, Facebook announced plans to display listing information on Facebook pages for U.S. primetime television shows and movies.
These changes are the latest in a string of updates Twitter has recently rolled out. Last week, it launched a new feature called Related Headlines, which adds more context to popular tweets. It also unveiled the next version of its two-factor authentication system, which the company said is more secure than its previous offering.
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