Twitter Confirms And Details New "Discovery Engine"

We’ve been getting a lot of tips today and yesterday about the limited roll-out of a new Twitter homepage design, which gives the search functionality a more prominent place along with some additional features.

We couldn’t see it ourselves on our accounts, but now co-founder Biz Stone has confirmed the changes in a blog post, calling the new feature a ‘discovery engine’. (see it here on the Flickr account of Adam Jackson)

With the redesign, the search box has moved to the right sidebar of the interface (only for a small subset of users at this point), where Stone claims it’s a more ‘natural part of the Twitter experience’. I agree, and it shows that the company realizes very well that real-time search is a killer feature they should be nurturing and monitoring very closely. When you do a search, the results no longer appear on a separate page but remain on the homepage, and by default it only crawls the tweets from the accounts you’re following searches the entire public Twitter stream.

You can also save search queries and revisit the results at a later time. Since the searches you save stay on your homepage, this feature makes it a lot easier for people to keep track of conversations around a given topic (e.g. a brand, event or person) and also sort of makes the plethora of third-party monitoring tools obsolete for basic queries. We’ll have to see how this will affect the applications that are currently centered around monitoring Twitter conversations (take for instance, the Yahoo Sideline desktop app we covered yesterday), but it’s clear that the more emphasis Twitter puts on that, the less relevant they become.

Twitter is also going to display popular trending topics below the search box, which will in turn make it easier for people to discover what the Twitterverse is talking about the most at any given time. Stone reminds us Trends is in beta, but like he says, it has potential.

Meanwhile, a lot of people are still reporting missing tweets and direct messages, a problem that’s been lingering for several weeks now.