It’s been two and a half months since Twitter first unveiled their own photo sharing service, in partnership with Photobucket. Just last week, they finished rolling it out to all users. Today, they’re taking the next step: opening it up to third-party developers.
As they’ve just announced on the Twitter Developers blog, there’s a new Photo Upload API that’s ready for developers outside the company to play around with. While plenty of third-party Twitter services have had photo uploads for a while, they often use their own method for doing it, or use a bigger player like TwitPic or yFrog. With the new API, they’ll be able to upload, store, and servce the images on Twitter’s servers in conjunction with Photobucket.
If you’ve used OAuth Echo for image uploads, you’ll find that the new method available at POST statuses/update_with_media is simpler and requires fewer dependencies. One of the first things you’ll notice about this method is the host name: status updates with media can only be executed on upload.twitter.com rather than api.twitter.com. Using this alternative host name for the upload path ensures high availability and flexibility.
Beyond the “high availability” good news, you’ll note that “update_with_media” aspect. It would seem that Twitter is leaving the door open to media beyond photos, perhaps video, for example. Twitter says they have nothing to announce in that regard at this time. Again, they’re undoubtedly just leaving it open-ended for the future.
In order to use the service, Twitter asks that developers follow their display guidelines, which are pretty straightforward. One thing to note, they ask you use pic.twitter.com/SLUG instead of t.co/SLUG, seemingly to let users know it’s a picture coming their way on click.
Also, sadly, animated GIFs are not supported. Actually, thank god.
Twitter also notes that the photos services will “soon” be incorporated into the Twitter mobile clients as well. But there’s “no timeline to share” yet. Methinks it will be ready sometime before iOS 5 is launched this fall, which relies on it.