Twitter Launches App Tools For Developers

As expected, Twitter on Wednesday rolled out a new developer platform called “Fabric” that provides a suite of tools to make it easier for programmers to build and distribute apps. Announced at Twitter’s developer’s conference in San Francisco, the free tools will help developers eliminate bugs, track analytics and monetize their apps.

The services build on acquisitions the company has made in the last couple of years, including crash-reporting and analysis tool Crashlytics, mobile ad exchange MoPub and Gnip, which tracks and analyzes data on Twitter.

The launch of Fabric marks an effort by the microblogging service to improve relations with developers, while also helping to drive use of Twitter and its services in third-party apps. The company’s relationship with developers became strained after it enforced stricter requirements for outside apps in 2012 as it tried to gain more control of the core user experience on Twitter.

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The tools introduced today cover three areas: app performance, distribution and revenue and authentication. The developer “kit” for avoiding crashes comes from Crashlytics. Its software is designed to shorten the time between detecting, accessing and fixing bugs. Crashlytics also provides services for getting user feedback before launching an app, along with optimized app analytics.

One of the biggest challenges for any developer is getting their app noticed among the millions of titles already available in the App Store and Google Play — the main app storefronts. To that end, Twitter is offering ways to boost awareness including the ability for developers to put tweets to their app “with just a few lines of code.

Another feature, called Tweet composer, allows end users to share specific Twitter posts — sharing a game score or new artist or song, for instance — from within a third-party app to their Twitter followers. The company said it has also made it easier to authenticate users logging into third-party apps with their Twitter credentials.

“After authenticating a Twitter user, you can bring Twitter profiles into your app, enable users to share links and photos and help them connect with friends and interests. And now certain apps will be able to ask their users for permission to share their email address with you,” stated a company blog post today.

Perhaps most important, Twitter offers a way for developers to monetize their apps by plugging into its MoPub exchange. The platform lets users optimize ads across multiple ad networks and utilize formats including banners, interstitials, video and native ads.

Finally, Twitter introduced a new feature as part of the Fabric suite that would let people sign into apps with only a phone number to avoid having to remember complex passwords. Because phone numbers are often used in emerging markets as the primary mobile identifier, the service is available in 216 countries and 28 languages across iOS, Android and the Web, Twitter said.

The company noted that McDonald’s is already using Digits in its McDonald’s Alarm app, which lets users share offers for the restaurant chain’s food and beverages. To redeem an offer, a person has to authenticate via the phone sign-in. “Digits enables McDonald’s to quickly authenticate real users and get them into the app with a minimum of friction,” stated Twitter.

The company said the separate developer kits for Crashlytics, Twitter distribution, and MoPub that make up Fabric begin shipping today. 

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