[Update: Launched] Twitter is revamping its API with much-requested features for 3rd-party apps
Twitter is having an interesting week, to say the least. A day after numerous high-profile accounts were hijacked to promote cryptocurrency scams, leading to Twitter temporarily halting new tweets from many verified accounts, the social media company is announcing some big changes to its API. Twitter API v2, as they are calling it, is a new foundation that has been rebuilt for the first time since 2012. Some important changes will affect 3rd-party apps that we know and love.
As you may know, Twitter’s API has caused a lot of friction for 3rd-party app developers. Numerous popular Twitter clients have been pulled from the Play Store in the past due to reaching the controversial 100,000 token limit. Back in 2018, Twitter made changes that removed key features from 3rd-party developers. Those changes went into effect later that year despite a campaign from the developers of popular apps. Some of those key features will finally be made available to developers again with API v2.
Here’s Twitter’s brief explanation of what’s new in API v2:
- A cleaner API that’s easier to use, with new developer features like the ability to specify which fields get returned, or retrieve more Tweets from a conversation within the same response
- Some of the most requested features that were missing from the API, including conversation threading, poll results in Tweets, pinned Tweets on profiles, spam filtering, and a more powerful stream filtering and search query language
The last bullet point is what fans of 3rd-party Twitter apps should be most excited about. It’s pretty crazy to think that a 3rd-party client wasn’t allowed to show polls, thread conversations, or show pinned tweets. These are basic features of the social media platform that anyone would expect to see in a Twitter client, and it only harmed the Twitter experience for users who weren’t using the official app. We’re glad to see Twitter has opened these features up.
Previously, the Twitter API was separated into three tiers: Standard (free), Premium (self-serve paid), and Enterprise. API v2 will replace all three tiers with product tracks designed to fit different groups of developers. Twitter says the new tracks will hopefully have something for everyone. Here’s how the company describes the three product tracks:
- Standard: Available first, this will be the default product track for most developers, including those just getting started, building something for fun, for a good cause, and to learn or teach. We plan to add Elevated access to this track in the future.
- Academic Research: Academic researchers use the Twitter API to understand what’s happening in the public conversation. In the future, qualified academic researchers will have a way to get Elevated or Custom access to relevant endpoints. We’re also providing tools and guides to make it easier to conduct academic research with the Twitter API.
- Business: Developers build businesses on the Twitter API, including our Twitter Official Partners and enterprise data customers. We love that their products help other people and businesses better understand and engage with the conversation on Twitter. In the future, this track will include Elevated or Custom access to relevant endpoints.
Twitter realized the older pricing and rate limits were limiting developers, especially those who were just building stuff for fun. With these changes, we could see a resurgence of fun little Twitter tools and bots with the Standard track. Speaking of which, the Standard track is launching today, while the Business and Academic/Research tracks will arrive “soon.” Each track also contains Basic, Elevated, or Custom access levels. Pricing for the tracks has not been announced at this time.
Early access to the initial set of new endpoints will be available to all developers with the free, Basic access level. Developers interested in trying these features can sign up for a developer account and apply here to get started. The public roadmap is available on this Trello board for developers to track the progression of API v2.
Update 1: Now Available
Twitter publicly detailed its new API for third-parties last month, but they delayed the release because the company was just recently the victim of a big social engineering attack. Yesterday, though, Twitter updated its official blog post to note that the new API has been launched. Interested developers can visit the new Twitter Developer Portal to get started.