The Evolution of Twitter Fascinates Me

24th June 2022

Twitter has just started to roll out a new composer tool, Twitter Write, which adds the support to write long-form content. It allows users to write a note, which can essentially be seen as a blog post, just hosted on Twitter itself. There are still limits to what you can write in a note, with the title being limited to 100 characters, and the body having a limit of 2,500 words.

In some ways, I find this feature to be an obvious addition to the platform, especially given the number of Notes app screenshots, or “TwitLonger” links shared on the platform. There’s clearly a demand to share more than 280 characters.

However, I think this feature is a lot more than just a mechanism of increasing the character limit. Especially if you think of the other features that have been added to Twitter in the last year or so.

To some, Twitter should be used as a pure chronological timeline, of tweets from the accounts that you follow. But it’s clear that Twitter as a platform is becoming more of an ecosystem, in which multiple social networking services exist.

Just to name a few of the recent additions, there’s got Spaces that brings live audio conversations to the platform, Communities that allows groups of people to create dedicated places for people to connect, Shopping is a recent experimental addition, and soon people will be able to post longer written content via Notes. For a platform that was originally designed to share tiny pieces of text, it’s evolved substantially.

On top of all of that, there’s Twitter Blue, Super Follows, Tips, and a ton more that I’ve forgotten about.

It’s fascinating to me to see the visible evolution of the platform. And while the big elephant in the room is Elon Musk, I’d still prefer to keep a positive mindset on the situation and think about the ways the platform could still improve.

Twitter Blue - Twitter’s New Paid Subscription

3rd June 2021

Twitter have officially announced Twitter Blue, their first subscription, which will give users access to a few extra features and perks. It has been rumoured for a while, so it’s not exactly surprising. But it’s still good to see it officially. It’s only available in Australia and Canada now, but at least we can get a preview of what will be included.

As for features, there are three that will initially be part of the new paid subscription - bookmark folders, an undo tweet option, and a specialised reader mode for threads.

Bookmark Folders are pretty easy to get your head around, it’s just a way to organise bookmarked tweets. Although I think this should be available for all users.

The Undo Tweet feature is a bit interesting. Because it may seem like it’s just another way to delete a tweet, but instead, it’s probably better to think of the feature as a customisable tweet delay. Matt Birchler had this idea not long ago, and his reasoning was that a delay could give you time to rethink whether you really wanted to tweet something. This won’t allow for a huge amount of consideration, as the maximum delay will be 30 seconds. But you’ll definitely be able to quickly stop a tweet from being posted that may contain a wrong link, image, or spelling mistake. I think this could be quite useful.

As for the Reader Mode, this is a way to condense threads into a single view so you can read them much more seamlessly. Rather then manually scrolling through tweets, and getting replies from other people in the way.

There are a few extra perks for subscribers, and they are custom app icons, colour theme options, and dedicated customer support. I haven’t seen any of the app icons or themes, but I’m definitely up for some customisation.

Twitter only announced the pricing for Australia and Canada, with them being $4.49 AUD and $3.49 CAD. But with the way In-App purchases work, you can see what the app offers from the App Store page. And from that, I can tell that Twitter Blue will be £2.49 a month in the UK. Which I don’t think is that bad, and I’m 99% sure I’ll be signing up whenever it’s available.

Write-only Twitter

10th December 2020

I've come across this idea before, where you would use Twitter as a write-only service. The aim is usually to minimise the time spent on the platform, either to avoid distraction, or to keep away from the content, when all you want to do is publish a tweet.

I understand the reasoning. Sometimes you just want to write a quick tweet, share a link, etc., but you don't always want to be trapped on the social network itself. A few examples for myself would be sharing a link to a new blog post or a photo that I've taken.

As for the reasons to stay away from the content on Twitter, I guess that will be different for everyone, and every situation. I have thought about trying this myself, where I would avoid reading Twitter entirely, and treating it as a one-way street. But this always felt hypocritical, since it's like you're putting your content above everyone else's, expecting your followers to read what you tweet, but you have no intention to do the same.

Nevertheless, there certainly is the market for solutions where you do treat Twitter as a write-only service. And it just happens that I've come across a blog post by Josh Ginter on using Twitter without reading the timeline, and also a product called Typefully by the creators of Mailbrew. Which allows you to create write and publish tweets without any form of timeline distraction.

Josh Ginter's solution was to only tweet via a dedicated Shortcut:

First, I created a simple “Tweet” shortcut that provides a simple text input box. Once I’ve inputted my tweet, tapping Done shoots me through to Tweetbot (or you could tweet through the Twitter app — whichever you prefer), pastes the tweet I previously typed, and a final tap of the “Tweet” button sends the tweet and shoots me back to Shortcuts.

Nowhere in this shortcut is there an ability to see who has tweeted in your timeline. There’s also no way to cancel the tweet and read tweets in the timeline mid-way through the shortcut — if you hit “Close” in Tweetbot, the shortcut will shoot you back to Shortcuts.

Twitter, But Without the Timeline

I think this solution would start to get on my nerves after a while. Because the Shortcuts app opens when you launch the shortcut, and it navigates back to the Shortcuts app afterwards. However, it still has the desired effect.

One app I use when sharing content to Twitter is Linky. It has a very good share extension, and lets me share content without ever opening the Twitter app.

As for Typefully, it is essentially a Twitter composer. There is no feed, or any content from Twitter at all. The only things you can do is to compose tweets, and either publish them, or schedule them to be published later. It works great in a web browser, and also if you add it to an iOS Home Screen.

This tool is what I would probably opt for, if I wanted a write-only experience for Twitter. But I think it's also a great tool if you simply want to compose a thread of multiple tweets, or want create a batch of tweets to cue published at different times. Matt Birchler made a useful video on Typefully over on his A Better Computer channel.

I'm interested to see if this idea of a write-only Twitter is appealing to others. And if this does become a trend, I wonder what other products will be created.

Twitter Finally Adds Support for iOS Live Photos

11th December 2019

After four short years, Twitter have added support for Live Photos. A feature that was announced alongside the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, in 2015.

If you ignore the strangely huge delay, I do think that it’s a very welcome addition. A lot of people including myself take Live Photos all the time. So I can see this being quite popular.

It doesn’t literally keep them as Live Photos though, they are converted to GIF format. That’s not exactly a bad thing though, as I’m sure there’s quite a few benefits of storing them as a GIF rather than the raw video from the Live Photo.

One thing I didn’t like about the video alongside their very brief announcement, was the attitude towards the newly added support. They talk about how millions of Live Photos are taken every day, but how they go unshared and forgotten about. But “Today is a new day”. Sure, today is a new day and it’s a pretty cool feature, but I think it easily could have been done a number of years ago. The only blocker for adding this support earlier was Twitter themselves.

Twitter Announces New Gesture To Open Camera

13th March 2019

Twitter have announced (on Twitter) that an updated camera interaction is on its way. So you’ll be able to access the camera with just one swipe:

This is a really good improvement. I’ve even downloaded the official Twitter app again, so I’m ready to try it out.

Twitter Plans to Break Parts of All Third-party Apps

7th April 2018

And some of the developers have responded:

After June 19th, 2018, “streaming services” at Twitter will be removed. This means two things for third-party apps:

  1. Push notifications will no longer arrive
  2. Timelines won’t refresh automatically –

Twitter has always had a strange relationship with developers of third-party clients, with certain features never even making it into their hands. A quick example would be Polls. They don’t show up on apps like Tweetbot, because they don’t know they exist.

I’m not so sure how much of a loss timeline streaming would be, but push notifications?!

Maybe this is time for more people to check out

Better Support for Tweetstorms, Exactly What Twitter Needed!

12th December 2017

From the Twitter Blog:

We’ve made it easy to create a thread by adding a plus button in the composer, so you can connect your thoughts and publish your threaded Tweets all at the same time. You can continue adding more Tweets to your published thread at any time with the new “Add another Tweet” button. Additionally, it’s now simpler to spot a thread – we’ve added an obvious “Show this thread” label. – Full announcement.

As much as I think this is a good addition to the Twitter app, even though my thoughts on tweetstorms are mixed, I can’t help but thinking that they’re still not working on the important things.

It sounds stupid, and I understand there’s different departments for different things. But the native Mac app doesnt even support 280 characters yet.

And what about all the god damn abuse!

I was a bit weary of blaming Twitter directly for these types of issues, where maybe things such as blocking, or other reactionary actions could help. But it’s a real mess.

I’m a massive fan of Twitter. But if certain people can’t use it because of things like abuse, safeguarding issues, the special treatment some people get even when they break such basic rules (especially that prat with the blonde combover), then you’re doing something fundamentally wrong.

In no way is this me trying to create a comprehensive list of the problems with Twitter. I don’t have enough patience to write about them all. But it pisses me off when I see constant “improvements” to the things that don’t really matter.

Use Regular Expressions to Return to 140 Character Tweets

8th November 2017

As we all know, Twitter is now changing the character limit of a tweet to 280 characters, from the original 140. I’m sure they have reasons, and I’m not here to argue against any of them.

However, if you find yourself wanting to go back to the “old Twitter”, where tweets were short, and we had to abbreviate things when we couldn’t fit all of it in. There is a way to achieve this.

The method is by simply hiding any tweets that do not meet your length preference. The most popular twitter clients for iOS and macOS (Tweetbot, and Twitterrific), have some form of muting feature, which also allow advanced muting with regular expressions.

Some people make use of this to mute certain hashtags, overuse of hashtags or @mentions, and some really advanced things. But for the purpose of checking a tweet length, you just need to see how many characters there are.

And that’s simply:


You use [sS] to match any character, and then use the lengths afterwards to specify a minimum and/or maximum length.

Just to explain it in a bit more detail, the square brackets are a way to define a collection of character matching rules. And the curly braces are sequence quantifiers, that can match minimum, exact, or maximum length of a match.

And then there’s the s and S.

The s is used to match a whitespace character, so spaces, tabs, new lines, etc. And the S is used to match the opposite, all non-whitespace characters, So if you put them together, then you’re going to match every possible character. Which in a scenario like this, is all you need.

The Patterns

So now I’ve explained the scenario, and solution in a bit of detail, I’ll get to the actual regular expression patterns.

In this case, we simply want to hide all tweets that do not fit the old standard of 140 characters in a tweet.

However, we aren’t setting rules, but instead writing patterns to match tweets that will be hidden, we will need to inverse the logic.

Seeing as we only have one parameter – the maximum length we want to see, it will be very easy. Because now we need to say, if a tweet matches these conditions, hide it.

The conditions will be of course, that it is over the limit we set. In this example I will use the old 140 character limit, but you could set your own custom preference using this same method.

If we take that logic and apply it to the simple pattern I mentioned earlier, we can simplify it even further. As we’re not checking a maximum length, that’s irrelevant. We just want to hide anything over a certain amount.

Which leaves us with:


You still need the comma in there though, as otherwise it will only match if it is the exact same length as the number entered.

Now the last part, the actual number.

Remember, this is not the length that we want to see, but instead the opposite. So if you want to see all tweets that are 140 characters or less, you need to check for anything 141 characters or over. (The same logic also applies to other limits).

So that makes it:



Using The Patterns in Tweetbot/Twitterrific

So we have the regular expression created, now we just need to make use of it in a twitter client.

Tweetbot is the slightly easier option, as you just need to navigate to Mute filters, and then add a keyword filter. Where you’ll have to type your pattern in, which will enable a regular expression switch, which you will have to tap.

In Twitterrific, it’s somewhat more confusing, but only initially. In this app, the mute feature is called Muffles. And you add a new muffle, to mute tweets just like Tweetbot. However when you navigate to the Muffles section, it doesn’t mention regular expressions, which lead me to initially thought they weren’t supported.

However, you can use them in Twitterrific, it just takes one extra parameter, a pattern title. You specify a RegEx Muffle in the following format:

Title :: Pattern

P.S. I know there is more formatting available, but it’s not relevant here.

So for Twitterrific, you might want to use something like this:

Classic Twitter :: [sS]{141,}

And that is it. Now you can hide away from the future, and pretend these long tweets just don’t exist.

Apps Mentioned:

The Origin of Tweet →

7th October 2017

Craig Hockenberry writing at (Back in 2013):

I started started using Twitter at the beginning of December. Like John Gruber and my colleagues at the Iconfactory, I loved our new “water cooler for the Internet.” I was, however, unhappy with using Twitter via the website or Dashboard widgets.

While taking a shower in the middle of December, an idea struck me: it wouldn’t be hard to hook up Twitter’s new API to the Cocoa networking classes and display a table with tweets. So I dried off and started prototyping: the next day I had the world’s first Twitter client running on my Mac.

A few days later, I checked all my code into our repository and Twitterrific was born:

r174 | craig | 2006-12-20 17:54:11 -0800 (Wed, 20 Dec 2006) | 1 line`
Initial import

Read the full post.

It’s a great story about the beginning of Twitter, and how Twitterrific came about. It certainly seems that everyone involved at the early stages, were super influential on the end product that all of us use today.

Twitter launched on the 15th July 2006, and the initial release of Twitterrific was on the 15h January 2007. So it didn’t take long!

I joined Twitter in July 2009, so even though I feel like I was relatively early to the service, I can’t imagine how cool it would of been to use it in it’s earlier days. I would imagine, something similar to, as that was very enjoyable to use. But sadly didn’t make it.

In related news, Iconfactory have been working on Twitterrific 5 for Mac for a while, becuase of a hufgely successful Kickstarter campaign. And it will go live on the Mac App Store on the 10th October!

How I’m Keeping up to Date with Twitter

23rd August 2017

It’s now almost midway through my holiday in Tenerife, and I’ve been noticing a few ways I’ve been using Twitter differently, seeing as I’m not constantly being updated.

As most people would expect, I haven’t been constantly stuck to my phone (with the exception of music and podcasts), so I haven’t been able to be 100% caught up with my timeline. Whereas I’m usually a maximum of 1 hour behind, given that I’m awake. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, or whether it’s good for productivity, but that’s what happens.

But instead of my usual Twitter activity, I’m hardly posting anything, but I still want to keep an eye on anything significant that’s going on.

I actually have three Twitter clients installed on my phone at the minute, and they’ve each gained a temporary place in my daily usage. My client of choice was previously Tweetbot, but I was getting bored recently, and was checking out the current state of Twitterrific, so that’s the reasons for the first two. The last one is the official Twitter app, and that’s purely for keeping up with what updates are being added, and also so I can see a poll if I need to.

So seeing as I just want to see the most essential/interesting content from the day, my Twitter usage normally consists of:

  • Checking the official Twitter app for the “What you’ve missed” section (I’ve 99% got the actual name wrong, but you get the idea). I may read some related tweets, but I feel this gets me updated.
  • I use Tweetbot every now and then for push notifications, and also to check out the Activity section. Which shows follows, likes, and mentions, all in the same list, so that’s how I make sure I’m up to date on anyone interacting with me.
  • Any “normal” use of Twitter where I want to search for someone, specifically see a users timeline, or just checkout the most recent tweets (not particularly often, but when I’m bored), I do all of this in Twitterrific.

Looking back on my usage, it seems pretty standard. Apart from the use of three different apps of course. I’m going to try and force myself to use Twitterrific a bit more, and then make a decision on that, so then it’s only the two.

The biggest plus for me for the last few days has been the official Twitter app, because it’s pretty quick to read the curated list of tweets that apparently I’ve missed out on. I’ve found to be a pretty well curated list, and unless there’s some big thing that I just haven’t seen, I feel as up to date as usual.

Maybe this will prompt a change in how I use Twitter when I get home, but I’m not putting any importance into that idea.