In recent years Facebook has been mocked for copying key aspects of Twitter: hashtags, @ tagging, lists and more. Now the tables have turned. Twitter’s biggest ever redesign rolls out this month and, null .
Fortunately for users (and perhaps Twitter’s legal team) the duo’s newfound similarity is only skin deep. Twitter still functions very differently to its social networking rival, but it also functions very differently to the ageing Twitter most users know and love.
So here is your guide to the changes – some of which are fairly controversial – and how to make the most of them:
1. Design: Photos and Videos Front and Center
Facebook may be feeling smug at Twitter’s changes, but the real influencer is Instagram which also inspired much of Facebook’s 2013 redesign.
Consequently Twitter now places far greater emphasis on shared images and video. Your profile picture is bigger, you are prompted to pick a large background header (Twitter scales it automatically but it should be at least 1500 pixels wide if you want to avoid blur on large screens) and provides some tasteful samples. Meanwhile your tweets with ‘photos/videos’ get their own filter, both along the top and down the left column of your profile.
Last year Twitter also began enlarging images and videos in timelines and following the redesign has been taken a step further to help them really stand out. If you want to be noticed on the new Twitter a regular supply of both will be vital.
Other more minor changes include a new right hand column for ‘Who to follow’ and ‘Trends’ (trending topics) while your Twitter join date is now displayed alongside your biographical information and location.
2. Best Tweets: Popular Tweets Will Be Emphasised
Twitter launched with the simple premise that anyone could share anything and receive equal timeline billing, but that is about to change. The redesigned Twitter will now highlight tweets which have received greater engagement (measured in replies, retweets and favourites). The aim is to make the most popular content in your timeline easy to spot, though there is a risk it could give advertisers, cat pictures and Justin Bieber tweets an even greater advantage than they enjoy already.
Again the roots of this feature come from Facebook which filters user’s timelines to show ‘Top Stories’ by default. Facebook lets you change this (click the downward arrow beside ‘News Feed’ in the left column) but Twitter won’t so it will be fascinating to watch if there is a backlash from everyday users who feel they are now second class citizens.
3. Pin Tweets: Highlight A Tweet
Given Twitter’s redesign will make user profiles a more popular browsing designation the company has realised you may not want your best tweets to be so quickly hidden by inconsequential chat. To combat this Twitter will let users pin a tweet to the top of your profile’s timeline so it can be admired by all.
Caveats are Twitter only allows one tweet to be pinned at a time (pin another and you are warned ‘This will replace any previously pinned Tweet. Are you sure?’) and you cannot pin tweets by others. Interestingly this means old school retweets (starting: RT) can be pinned, but not Twitter’s standard retweet system.
4. Filtered Tweets: Replies, Photos and Videos Get Separated
In addition to pinning your best tweets, Twitter is determined to make users’ profiles more comprehensible to visitors by separating tweets from replies. A ‘tweets and replies’ categories will exist for those who still want everything mixed together but only a user’s standalone tweets (and retweets) will be seen by default.
As mentioned earlier, ‘photos/videos’ also get their own section. Given Twitter’s growing obsession with both means they will still appear in your main timeline, but viewers can filter a user’s timeline to show only them and nothing else. No doubt this was inspired by the public’s obsession with celeb gawking.
5. Twitter Apps Will Soon Look The Same
The Twitter refresh is initially for the web only, but leaks have already shown its new look will be applied to all mobile apps. Again the look when shrunk to the small screen is eerily similar to viewing your profile in Facebook’s app. Photos are getting the same enlarged look and filters to display only the photos and videos in a user’s timeline are present. Like or loathe the new redesign, there will be no escaping it.
So How Do I Get It?
The redesigned Twitter profile began incrementally rolling out to users last month, but this week it will become an option for most when they visit their user profile via a desktop browser (it has yet to appear as an option for mobile browsers at the time of publishing).
For those who have yet to be given the option to update it can be manually null and clicking the ‘Get it now’ link at the bottom of the page.
While I have reservations about some elements of the redesign (did it really need to mimic Facebook so closely?) most of the new features are welcome and – in some cases – long overdue. Twitter is getting ever further away from its simple initial premise, but overall the update represents progress and that is to be applauded.
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