Twitter launches group DMs alongside in-app mobile video platform

27 Jan 2015

Still from 'New on Twitter: Group Messages' by Twitter/YouTube

Twitter’s much anticipated 30-second mobile video capture service has arrived, along with an unexpected but fitting surprise – group direct messages (DMs).

Reports had been circulating for the past month that Twitter would be rolling out a new mobile video service.

Starting today, Twitter’s new native video service will be available via the official Twitter app.

Users will be able to seamlessly capture, edit and share videos directly from the app.

Users can capture and share videos up to 30 seconds instantly, rather than the 20 seconds originally believed.

Twitter for iPhone users will be able to upload videos from the camera roll on their device and this feature will arrive on the Twitter for Android app very soon.

“We designed our camera to be simple to use so you can capture and share life’s most interesting moments as they happen,” said Twitter product director Jinen Kamdar.

“In just a few taps you can add a video to unfolding conversations, share your perspective of a live event, and show your everyday moments instantly, without ever having to leave the app. Viewing and playing videos is just as simple: videos are previewed with a thumbnail and you can play them with just one tap.”

Say hello to group DMs

The biggest surpise today, however, was the addition of group DMs which allow users to converse privately with groups of friends or acquaintances.

“The group function lets you start conversations with any of your followers and they don’t all need to follow one another in order to chat,” Kamdar said.

While the new features are welcome and necessary, they are not a breakthrough and are arguably long-overdue.

Twitter appears to be upgrading its main offering to be more sticky. Social networking rival Facebook recently reported that more than 1bn vidoes were viewed in its news feeds in 2014 and while many young users are shying away from Facebook’s main offering, they find the Groups function affords them the freedom and privacy they need.

If Twitter is to step up its advertising ante, video is going to be a crucial weapon.

For ordinary users, however, it will be an empowering tool that will finally let them shoot and share videos within tweets. And with the speed of transmission of tweets on Twitter, this could be explosive from a news and freedom of speech perspective.

Kamdar is correct in saying Twitter is a far more media-rich place today than it had been five or six years ago when most people were starting to use the network for the first time.

“Tweets have been more than 140 characters for some time,” Kamdar said.

“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 recognisable figures and brands.”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years