Twitter’s “While You Were Away” feature, which helps you catch up on tweets that you missed, is officially launching on iOS today (with Android and web coming soon).
The company previewed the feature at its analyst day last fall and started rolling it out at the end of December.
As described in a company blog post, While You Were Away does pretty much exactly what you would guess — if you haven’t opened the app for a while, it puts some of the “best tweets” from when you were gone at the top of your feed. The company writes:
A lot can happen while you’re on the go. To fill in some of those gaps, we will surface a few of the best Tweets you probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise, determined by engagement and other factors. If you check in on Twitter now and then for a quick snapshot of what’s happening, you’ll see this recap more often; if you spend a lot of time on Twitter already, you’ll see it less.
We definitely saw some skepticism when the feature started rolling out, and it popped up again today. I guess that’s not surprising, since it’s interrupting the purity of the reverse chronological stream of tweets. And implemented badly, While You Were Away could make you feel like you’re being forced to catch up on old news before getting to the current stuff that you really care about.
Personally, I think it’s a smart addition, not just for those casual users Twitter is working hard to engage, but also for me. This may alleviate some of the stress when I’m back on Twitter after hours or more away, when I’m torn between thinking, “Oh God, I have to catch up on everything I missed!” and “Screw it, it’s gone now.” This could also mean that you don’t have to worry as much that no one will see your incredibly clever tweet because it went out in the middle of the night.
Seriously, if this results in fewer “In case you missed it!” tweets, then it was all worth it.