Twitter spent the last several months experimenting with your timeline. The network created an event feed around the World Cup, started showing content from people you don't follow when you pull to refresh, and now shows you important tweets you missed at the top of your stream. But Twitter has been lagging behind when it comes to building brand new tools for you to use. That changes now.
The network is finally rolling out group direct messaging and the ability to shoot and share videos within its iOS and Android apps after teasing both features for months.
Getting started with video
Video on Twitter isn't exactly new--the network owns Vine, so you can share 6-second loops that show up in-line.
"Tweets have been more than 140 characters for some time," Twitter product director Jinen Kamdar said in a Tuesday blog post. "The Twitter you experience today is rich and immersive, full of images, gifs, Vines, audio files and videos from some of the world's most recognizable figures and brands."
But you haven't been able to shoot and share clips natively within Twitter until now. When you compose a tweet, tapping on the camera will give you an option to toggle over to video mode. You can shoot multiple clips and edit them into a 30-second video, all within the app. The footage will show up and play in-stream, like photos already do.
Video is a potential game-changer for Twitter. People already use the platform to talk about and share photos related to breaking news and pop culture. Video will take those conversations to a whole new level, as people share clips of events as they unfold.
Twitter for iPhone users will be able to upload videos from their Camera Roll, too. That option is rolling out later for Android.
Messaging for groups
Twitter's direct-messaging feature has languished over the last few years. You could only send messages to people who followed you, unless you enabled the option to let anyone DM you during a brief Twitter experiment awhile back.
Now you can create a group chat of up to 20 followers straight from the direct messaging tab. Those 20 people don't need to follow each other to see and respond to the thread. You can share tweets, links, photos, and emoji (of course), and take public conversations private. This is an improvement for Twitter's power users, who already love DMing, but also might make Twitter easier to follow for casual users. Conversations on the platform can devolve into a messy thread of inside jokes between multiple people, and those chats can be taken to DM to spare everyone.
A few months ago, Twitter started allowing users to share tweets in direct messages, and I was surprised to discover just how often I used this option. E-mailing a tweet doesn't spark a conversation the way DMing one does.
Messaging apps are taking over the world, so building out a full-featured messaging tool within a platform that people already use constantly is another way for Twitter to stay relevant. But video is really where Twitter can prove its worth and define its role as the global town square. Both features begin rolling out on Tuesday.