Twitter is testing some new features in an effort to become more conversational.
Twitter recently announced some major API changes, which affected a number of third-party app features last month. The company has now turned its attention to developing new tools for its native applications.
Two features being tested
According to company CEO Jack Dorsey, the two new features are called ‘presence’ and ‘threading’.
Presence is, at a basic level, a status indicator much like those on Facebook Messenger. It will show a green dot beside a user’s image when they are actively online.
Threading offers a new way to reply on Twitter. At the moment, Twitter users can see all the main replies to a tweet and then tap through to view the individual threads and replies. The new threading feature shows the replies in an interface more reminiscent of a messaging app, with indented, colour-coded replies.
The threading feature may come in useful for following a conversation on the website, similar to the feature for threading within a user’s own tweets, which launched last year.
Twitter users raise safety concerns
Some people quickly raised concerns about the presence feature, saying it might make people feel uncomfortable to have to disclose their activity on the app. One user, Charles Arthur, outlined his worries:
Knowing when someone is online will have much bigger negative effects than positive ones. Pile-ons, targeted attacks, all that sort of stuff. Twitter works best because it’s asynchronous. It’s not your “friends” like Messenger.
— Charles Arthur (@charlesarthur) August 31, 2018
Head of product at Twitter, Sara Haider, quickly said that the firm “would definitely want you to have full control over sharing your presence”, which means the feature may be easy to opt out of, if it ever comes to pass. Haider added that the presence feature is a signal “that you’re online and looking for conversation”.
I have to admit, I always disliked apps showing online status. It's confusing to me. How do you determine who is online in a hyperconnected world?
— Jordan ⚡️ Staniscia (@jordanstaniscia) August 31, 2018
The company is still asking for feedback from users on the features, which are very much still in the iteration phase.
The features are currently only available to a few users as of now, but this will change if they prove popular among the testing groups.