The social network unveiled the software development kit yesterday evening (22 October) at its first developer conference since 2010 as a way to push itself into larger app eco-system.
It means developers can weave tweets and other Twitter features into their apps while also diving into Twitter’s wider advertising platform to create more stable applications, boost revenue through the MoPub mobile ad exchange and access the site’s real-time analytics.
Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo labeled Fabric as the “future of mobile software development. “We wanted to approach this not from the perspective of what would be best for Twitter, but from the perspective of what would make you the most productive”, he added.
While the platform will no doubt boost the coffers of the platform should it win over developers, the company says it has different intentions. Ultimately, it wants Fabric to standardise the future of mobile app development.
“It’s not a departure so much as moving beyond Twitter the product and moving into Twitter the company and the platform”, says Costolo. “It’s about helping define the future of the mobile landscape and building an application developer’s platform for the future.
A key part of the developer kit and Twitter’s charm offensive on the developer community is the “Digits” service.
“We wanted to approach this not from the perspective of what would be best for Twitter, but from the perspective of what would make you the most productive.”
It lets users log into apps using their phone numbers rather than having to remember passwords and usernames. The service is being promoted to the industry as an easier way to convince consumers to sign up apps, which in turn widens the scope for data capture and more targeted advertising.
McDonald’s, one of the first to brands to use the feature, demonstrated one example where it is letting people use their phone number to download an app in exchange for a free offer. The promotion is received immediately, while the app is ready to download and use later, eschewing the longer, more traditional registration process.
Digits is being rolled out to iOS, Android and mobile web platforms worldwide now.
The announcements suggest Twitter has learnt from its earlier encounters with the developer community that led to accusations it was too controlling. By opening out its infrastructure, the company hopes to broaden the scope of its ad and sharing platforms to effectively reach a bigger audience in the mobile space.
It is the latest play from the business to come up with ways to pull revenue from its existing userbase while also continuing to bring in more traffic. Twitter says it sees the “hundreds of millions” of visitors logged-out of its platform as the next key revenue generator for its nascent advertising offering and is exploring ways to monetise the audience.