Twitter broke the only bit of joy I’ve found in its Android app, but you can get it back

Twitter made a product decision today to “streamline” its Android app. Twitter wouldn’t know a great, monetizeable, joyful feature if it hit it in the face. And I’ve spent the last couple of years hitting Twitter in the face with this feature in what has turned out to be a vain effort to keep it from being pulled. I’m talking about Highlights, the best part of the Twitter experience on Android.

Twitter Support

@TwitterSupport

As part of our continued work to streamline the Twitter for Android app experience, Highlights will now be available via push notifications and within the Notifications tab.https://help.twitter.com/managing-your-account/notification-settings-for-twitter-highlights 

About Highlights

Highlights (available on Twitter for iOS and Android) notifies you about the most interesting content from Twitter, tailored just for you.

help.twitter.com

Twitter Ads info and privacy

Since it was (basically) Android-only and buried in the side menu, I need to explain Highlights every time I talk about it. So here goes: it’s a side-swiping list of tweets and links, chosen by an algorithm, based on the best stuff from the people you follow. It’s a brief, quick list of popular tweets and links from the people you follow, that lets you catch up on what you missed.

In a world where most of my main Twitter timeline is usually awash in the Outrage Of The Moment, Twitter Highlights has been a rare fulfillment of the promise of social media: it presented delightful things that I care about from people that I care about, in a format that was quick and easy to digest.

Rather than build on it, Twitter went and turned it into yet another thing you’ll miss in your Notifications tab. (It is also available on iOS as a random notification.) And that’s just a shame, because this immersive, horizontal-swipe format could have been Twitter’s “Story” format, designed to compete with Instagram and Snapchat. It’s a lot like Twitter Moments, but built with an algorithm and with none of the convoluted UI required to build a Moment.

Twitter could have built on it, expanded on it, and (yes) put ads on it. Instead, Twitter just buried it. You know how Stories let you feel like you’ve caught up on what your friends are doing on Instagram or Snapchat? Highlights was that, but for Twitter.

Dieter Bohn

@backlon

Twitter just killed my favorite feature. This is awful.

RIP the only Twitter feature that made me feel the joy of catching up on what my friends care about.

You idiots. You jerks. https://www.theverge.com/2015/11/15/9738818/twitter-highlights-android-best-feature 

Twitter Highlights on Android is the best feature you’re not using

Twitter on Android has always felt a little second-class compared to Twitter on iOS. But the Android version has a feature that I love and that you should love too: Highlights. Highlights is a…

theverge.com

Twitter Ads info and privacy

All is not lost, however! Highlights still exist in the Twitter app, but there’s no longer a link to get to them in the sidebar. Samuel Maskell, a former senior engineer on the Android notifications team at Twitter, has taken it upon himself to create a tiny little Android “app” that restores a quick link to Twitter Highlights. You click the app on the home screen and it opens up the Twitter app directly into Highlights.

Dieter Bohn

@backlon

Replying to @backlon

You fools.

🎅🏻Samta☃️Claus🎄@samuelmaskell

Don’t mind me while I shamelessly plug my app to anyone reading the comments on this tweet.

Easy way to get highlights back -> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vandelay.highlighter 

Highlighter icon

Highlighter

A certain bird company removed my favourite feature today, but with this app you can get it back. This app is simply a launcher for Highlights within the main app.

Twitter Ads info and privacy

In an email, Maskell tells me that Highlighter is “literally 3 lines of code. The app just opens the same deep-link that the notification uses and then exits. Other than that, the only thing I have to say is that I’m sorry for the ugly icon. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ “

At some point, Twitter will probably kill this feature altogether, so that it can devote more engineering resources to ignoring the problem of making tweets editable. Until then, if you’re an Android user, I highly recommend sticking Highligher on your home screen somewhere, ugly icon and all.

Twitter Highlights respect your time. They let you catch up on Twitter without asking you to deal with the main feed’s latest whims and rants. If Twitter were any kind of smart, it would build up Highlights into a Story format that lives alongside your main feed instead of incessantly mucking around with the order of tweets on the home tab.

But, as we have seen time and time again over the past few years, Twitter is not any kind of smart.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s