Twitter has announced a much-needed update to its search product today, which will be available on all mobile devices: iOS, Android and mobile web. The company boasts that the update will help you find relevant tweets, trends and people to follow in a single stream.
This is very similar to the experience that we’re starting to see make its way to the website.
The update allows you to search from anywhere in the app instead of having to tap over to discover. Until now, “Interactions” has been an option for reviewing the connected tab, which displays all of your replies. This is now a default feature. These changes are designed to engage people more on Twitter, whether they’re heavy sharers or not. In the past, the company has said that you don’t have to tweet to use Twitter.
That’s partially true, but if people find things that interest them, they’ll engage a little bit more. Whether it’s a reply or an idea of something to say themselves during an event like the Super Bowl, discovery is something that Twitter needs to incrementally get better at to make it a full social network. Twitter says it wants each tab to have a “single stream of content,” which is of course easier to read. These changes do the trick.
Here’s a full rundown of what has changed:
Discover: Now all the content in Discover — Tweets, Activity, Trends and suggestions of accounts to follow — appears in a single stream, on both iPhone and Android. You can also dive into Activity and Trends from new previews at the top of the Discover tab.
Search: Search results now surface the most relevant mix of Tweets, photos, and accounts, all in one stream (similar to the stream in Discover). We’ve also added a new search button to Twitter for iPhone, letting you search from anywhere within the app. (This button was already available in the Android and iPad apps.) Look for the magnifying glass icon next to the button you use to compose a Tweet.
Connect: To provide a simpler experience in the Connect tab, the default view is now Interactions, which shows you new followers, retweets and mentions. If you prefer to view only your mentions in Connect, you can adjust the default in settings – find the “Connect tab” option and select “Mentions only”.
Links: Click a URL in a Tweet to go directly to that website from any timeline and get to content highlighted on Twitter faster. (Previously, when you tapped any part of a Tweet, it would first expand and then a second click was required to get to the website.)
It’s nice to see that you don’t have to do any extra tapping to click a link. This is a nice step towards efficiency and leaves you with with more clicks for all of your important BuzzFeed cat shares. The Twitter engineering team took things a step further to explain how it decides what to show you, based on “burstiness,” which is clearly a highly technical term.
Certain types of content may not have many relevant items to show for a particular input query, in which case we may choose not to include this type of content in search results. In other cases, for instance if query volume or matched item counts have an unusual spike (what we call a “burst”), we show this type and may also boost it to appear at a higher place in the results. To facilitate this, we represent trends in searches or matching result counts as a single number that is proportional to the level of “burstiness”.
Eventually, we should expect that Twitter starts to learn our tendencies, including who we interact with the most. For example, if you tend to expand a tweet from the same person a lot, especially if there’s a photo embedded, it should do it automatically.
But of course, the first step to machine learning is having the engagement and tendencies to learn from. This design and experience consistency will help Twitter get that much closer.
[Photo credit: Flickr]