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11/13/2014
02:55 PM
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4 Twitter Changes, Explained

Twitter responds to criticism about stagnant innovation by announcing a handful of new features coming to video, messaging, and users' timelines.



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Twitter wants investors to know it has a plan. The social network, which has been plagued this year by disappointing user growth and concerns about stagnant innovation, announced a handful of new features on Wednesday at its first Analyst Day event.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo addressed the social network's growth and revealed that, though it may log just 284 million monthly active users, investors need to consider its other metrics -- including the 500 million-plus users who browse Twitter via third-party tools while logged out and the 185 billion impressions it generates from tweets embedded into websites.

These untapped audiences present both challenges and opportunities for growth, Costolo said, and he revealed several new features users can expect soon: new timeline views, video updates, and improved messaging. Twitter vice president of product Kevin Weil said there are more updates to come.

"Over the coming months, we are picking up the pace of product changes and improvements," he said in a blog post. "As ever, that will involve a lot of experimentation, and we'll be listening to your feedback along the way to make sure we build a service you love."

[Popular social apps may track your every move. Read Location Tracking: 6 Social App Settings To Check.]

Here's a look at the new features coming soon to Twitter.

1. Video
Twitter announced a new tool to record, edit, and share your own videos -- apart from the six-second clips you can share via its video app, Vine. Twitter says there's a real-time component to it, which means it'll likely happen from right within the Twitter app. You can expect this feature to launch "in the first half of next year," the company said.

Twitter has focused on improving its rich media this year, introducing video, Vines, and GIFs into users' timelines and launching features that let you upload multiple photos, tag people in images, and use emojis.

Its continued focus on video in 2015 could pave the way for a broader rollout of video ads, which the company announced this summer.

2. Instant Timeline
Twitter's Instant Timeline feature is intended to help onboard new Twitter users who haven't yet cultivated a network of accounts to follow. This feed will display tweets from a variety of sources to help users discover people they want to follow and make sure they see fresh content, despite the size of their network, Costolo said.

"We believe that anyone should be able to come to Twitter and immediately feel deeply immersed in that world," he said.

3. Timeline Highlights
In addition to Instant Timeline, Twitter will introduce a new view of tweets called Timeline Highlights, which uses an algorithm to surface important posts you might have missed while you were away, the company said. Similar to Facebook's "Top Stories" view, the tweets aren't necessarily chronological, but they represent content that it thinks you'll find most interesting.

Twitter did not disclose when users can expect to see this feature, other than "soon."

4. Better private messaging
In July, Twitter updated its mobile apps to show users their entire direct-message history, and it added capabilities to streamline the process of deleting them both on mobile and the web. The last update it announced at its Analyst Day event hinted at "several updates coming that will make it easy to take a public conversation private," the company said.

The first update that it disclosed is the ability to share and discuss tweets natively and privately via direct messages. This feature will roll out next week, it said.

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Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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