Twitter announced today it’s introducing a new layout for replies that will use lines and indentations to make it easier to understand who you’re replying to and how the conversation is flowing. The company will also test putting engagement actions — including likes, Retweet and reply icons — behind an extra tap to make replies to conversations easier to follow.
These features have been in testing for just over a year in Twitter’s prototype app, twttr, affectionately dubbed “little T” internally at the company.
The app was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2019, as a way for Twitter to try out new ideas in space outside its public network. Twitter wanted to understand if an updated user interface would help people to better follow the conversations taking place on its platform — particularly those longer threads where the original poster also participates in the back-and-forth, and users end up replying to the wrong comment.
In its prototype app twttr, Twitter tried out a variety of styles, including, at one time, a design where the individual responses were more rounded — similar to chat bubbles.
The design that’s stuck around the longest, however, is the one that’s now making its public debut on Twitter.com and Twitter’s iOS app.
It involves branching lines that connect the different parts of the conversation threads together. The lines are more subtle than the chat bubbles had been, appearing as a lighter gray when Twitter’s default white theme is applied. Extra replies are also hidden beneath the “Show replies” label, which you have to tap to continue to read through a given thread.
The overall experience is something that’s more akin to a discussion board site, like Reddit.
In addition to the branching lines, the idea to hide Twitter’s engagement buttons was also something originally tested in twttr.
The company said in January 2020 that it intended to soon bring twttr’s experiments in threaded conversations to its main app.
“We’re taking all the different branches — all the different parts of the conversation — and we’re making it so it’s all in one global view,” explained Suzanne Xie, Twitter’s head of Conversations, speaking to reporters at CES 2020 earlier this year. “This means you can easily understand, and get a pulse of what’s happening in the conversation,” she added.
Twitter says the features will initially roll out to a portion of Twitter users on iOS and the web.