Twitter has begun rolling out a Facebook-like “Timeline Highlights” feature, which pins what it deems to be the important tweets users missed while they were away to the top of their timelines, The Guardian reports.
Twitter first announced it had began experimenting with the new feature back in November. At the time, Twitter’s VP of product Kevin Weil said in a blog post: “We can use information like who you follow and what you engage with to surface highlights of what you missed and show those to you as soon as you log back in or come back to the app.”
Twitter is an amazing platform for keeping up to date with news, opinion and generally what’s happening in the world right at as it happens. But its biggest advantage can also be intimidating to new users and even those who have been registered for a while. With more than 500 million tweets sent every day – rapidly and in chronological order – it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information users publish. With this new feature, Twitter is trying to make the platform a little less daunting.
The company also appears to be taking its lead from Facebook, which uses its algorithm to tailor users’ timelines based on what the platform thinks are the most relevant and engaging posts – rather than just the most recent.
So far the update only appears to feature in the Twitter for iOS app. TechCrunch notes that some users appeared to see the feature on the app in early December, but it looks as though the rollout stepped up on New Year’s Eve as that is when more users started to tweet about “While You Were Away” popping up on the app.
Reaction from users to the recap feature so far is mixed (but that’s always to be expected with new features; generally users don’t like change):
I’m not looking forward to Twitter’s “While you were away” feature.. They’re going to put it in the Home feed by the looks of it, bleurgh.
— InTheLittleWood (@InTheLittleWood) January 1, 2015
Twitter’s While You Were Away feature is the complete opposite of why I like Twitter. I come here for serendipity and to *escape* my habits.
— TED (@EpicureanDeal) January 1, 2015
Alongside “While You Were Away,” Twitter also said in November it is testing new features such as a “personalised timeline” for new users so that their accounts are immediately populated with tweets and accounts to follow. The company is also rolling out updates to Direct Messages.
All these new updates are designed to make Twitter easier to use in the hope of attracting more users and encouraging lapsed users to give the platform another try. The company is currently battling to convince investors it has the power to grow its userbase over the long-term, which would help it increase advertising revenue. In its most recently reported quarter the company added just 9 million users on the previous quarter and timeline views (a measure of how engaged users are with the platform) declined sequentially.
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