Twitter announced Version 1.1 of their API today, and in an attempt to “deliver a consistent Twitter experience”, the company will introduce some pretty strict new limits and restrictions for third-party applications.
The most controversial of these changes is a new user limit that will be imposed on traditional third-party Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific. Apps like these will now be limited to 100,000 users, and should they reach that threshold, they will be required to seek Twitter’s permission to add new users. Current apps that already have over 100,000 users will be able to grow until they reach 200% of their current user base (in other words, double the amount of their current users), at which point these restrictions will go into effect. Twitter has not explained what will happen to third-party apps once they reach their user limit, specifically whether or not they will be allowed to add more users, which will likely be determined on an app-by-app basis. Though the fact that they are urging developers to “not build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience” doesn’t bode well for the future of these apps. Regardless, Tapbots’ Paul Haddad seems pretty confident in the future of Tweetbot:
The sky is not falling, I’d obviously prefer that there wasn’t any cap, but the current cap is pretty huge and we aren’t going anywhere.—
Paul Haddad (@tapbot_paul) August 16, 2012
Twitter will also provide per-endpoint rate limiting with the updated API, a change intended to lessen the frequency of rate limiting issues. The current system allows 350 authenticated calls to be made per hour, regardless of the endpoint, while the new system will allow for 60 calls per hour per endpoint. In addition, all calls to the Twitter API will have to be authenticated, and client applications that come pre-installed on devices will have to be authenticated as well. Twitter is also adopting their current “Display Guidelines” as “Display Requirements” in order to tighten control over how Tweets and their contents appear, though this mostly dictates simple things like displaying the “@” symbol before a username, and linking @usernames to profiles.
While many see this news as “the end of the Twitter ecosystem”, that may not be the case. Though it may seem like third-party Twitter clients will be unable to thrive under these new rules, this may simply be Twitter’s way of regaining some control over their product and ensuring future profitability. It’s possible that Twitter will allow third-party clients like Tweetbot to continue to exist and grow in exchange for them adopting the “new” design requirements, and implementing Twitter’s ads.