Dear Twitter: Y U NO SHARE WITH DEVS?
Twitter: quite possibly the main culprit (along with SMS) for the butchering and overall decay of the English language (many other languages affected as well) for this generation and the next ones to come. Its 160 character limitation forces people to condense entire sentences into single sentences, normally with every other word abbreviated or otherwise replaced by what is known today as “net” or “text” speak. People find it to be a fantastic tool to communicate in real time with their friends, family, and loved ones due to a light interface and a much quicker upload time than other social sites like Facebook or G+. Several people use it to communicate important pieces of time sensitive information, while others use it to share utter garbage, troll, or start Internet arguments. However, this article is meant to cover something completely different, because whether I like it or not, this is a service that has taken root deep within our culture and it does not seem like it will go away any time soon.
A few days ago, we stumbled upon an article published on Android Police regarding an app known as Falcon Pro, created by XDA Forum Member Joenrv that is quickly becoming popular among Twitter users. The app acts as an alternative, feature packed client for the service. The article also linked to a Tweet that explained something quite disturbing regarding the future of the app but we are getting ahead of ourselves here. Twitter, as you all know, has its very own Twitter application/client for mobile devices like Android. The app is free and bundled with many devices who choose to preinstall this app in their OEM versions of Android. Needless to say, it also has its web interface if you are more keen on using the browser version. Twitter also has shared their APIs with the development world so that anyone could build applications with the Twitter functionality in mind. Anyone would think that this is a seemingly nice move to show support for the open source community, at least it would seem that way if it wasn’t for the fact that there is a small caveat.
The APIs are fine, no issues will be encountered while using these to build and run your app(s). The main, biggest issue comes when users try to use it. It seems that whenever you use your Twitter account for anything other than the web interface or their official app, you are assigned a token, which is a unique identifier that will tell the mothership that you are using your account through an unofficial app. The problem is that the number of tokens is very limited. Think of this as trying to get a table at a busy restaurant where unless you made a reservation beforehand or are one of the early birds for dinner, your chances of getting a table right away are 0 and you will not get one until someone leaves. You can go into the restaurant and see everyone enjoying their meal, but you cannot sit down or eat. Same concept applies here. When the app is purchased and you sign in for the first time, the token is provided to you (please note that purchasing the app does not guarantee that you will get a token). If there are no tokens left, the app will simply not allow you to log in. You can enjoy parts of its UI and the design, but you will not be able to use it at all.
Joenrv decided to take it to Twitter and requested the limit to be increased. However, their reply was less than amusing. They flat out denied the extension of the token limit on the basis that the application did not offer any new feature that warranted such extension. I have personally never used Twitter and in fact, I do not even have an account. However, from what I have seen on reviews on both apps, the statement by Twitter could not be further from the truth. As a result of this, the dev decided to embark on a protest type crusade against Twitter. His app is currently priced at US$132.13 in the Play Store. This move was done in order to prevent people from purchasing the app as people who purchase (or even those who had it and uninstalled it and decided to get it again) will likely be unable to log in unless someone releases a token (by uninstalling the app AND releasing the token from their web interface.
The question in everyone’s mind right now is why such a low limit considering how many people use Twitter? While there is no official explanation from them, the mot logical assumption is that they are forcing people to use their home-made flavor for some “other” purpose. What this alternate motivation is, we don’t know. People suggest that ad revenue might be very involved in all this. Others think that there might be something in the app that tracks you (spyware if you will). Other not-so-logical explanations would suggest that they are simply stubborn and refuse to admit that there are others out there who might be better than them.
Oh, Twitter. You could have just as easily stated “due to security concerns/technical limitations, we cannot release more than 100K since our systems might collapse” or something along those lines. You had many, many venues that you could have taken, despite of them being believable or not. But nooo, you guys decided to try and look “superior” over the poor little freelance developer who is trying to make his way into the big developers’ club. Well, Twitter, congratulations on getting one step closer to obliteration. Instead of trying to learn from others and improve your stuff, you limit them. Hell, the very concept of your service is to limit people. The only thing that we did not think would be done (save of course due to technical difficulties) would be to limit the number of people using your service.
So, with all this in mind, I ask why. Ever since the token system was instated, you’ve continued to give out vague statements, empty responses, and really no real answers as to why you are truly doing this. Should we start being concerned about something hidden in your app? CIQ fooled us before by doing things behind our backs and see how that worked out for them. We hope that you are not on the same line of “business” because… Well, it will not be pretty.
I guess it will be on your best interest to come up with a decent explanation for this.
Thanks for reading.
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[Thanks to Developer Admin pulser_g2 for the tip!]