Twitter API Lead Alex Payne has just tweeted that OAuth support for third party applications is now in public beta. Support for the authentication protocol has been frequently requested for many months, and was finally made available to a limited number of developers last month.
OAuth allows developers to create third party apps that can access a user’s account information without requiring them to hand over their login credentials. Before now, Twitter applications have required users to enter their usernames and passwords. This typically hasn’t been a problem (and most users haven’t seemed to mind given the vast number of popular apps using the Twitter API). But handing third party developers login credentials, and in turn full authorization to access and store a user’s account information does open the door to abuse, should something happen down the line that exposes user data. OAuth removes some of this risk, though users are still potentially open to phishing attacks.