This week, Twitter is hosting its annual developers conference, Chirp, which is why you've probably noticed a flurry of announcements and changes at Twitter. All of these are meant to improve the user experience, so unless you're a developer who has to make sense of it all, you should be pretty excited about the prospects to come.
In case you've had trouble keeping up with all of it, here's a handy guide so you can keep up at this weekend's nerdiest cocktail parties:1. Twitter created its first true advertising opportunity with "Promoted Tweets"
For now, promoted tweets will appear only in relevant search results. So if you search for "new car," your results might include a promoted tweet from Ford. These branded messages will likely be phased into Twitter streams gradually, so you'll eventually see them popping up between your friends' updates.
Some have likened this new ad style to how Digg.com handles sponsored items, which is pretty seamless, though it can sometimes be easy to miss that a front-page Digg item is sponsored.
Twitter is treating this endeavor with a lot of care to remain unobtrusive and only allow sponsored tweets that are relevant and useful to users.
Will businesses find it a worthwhile service to pay for? Hard to say at this point, though it'll be interesting to watch it evolve.
2. Twitter bought an iPhone app.
Since the iPhone's debut three years ago, third-party applications have been the only options for Twitter users. Now Twitter has officially gotten on board with the purchase of Tweetie, a (currently) $2.99 application. The app will soon be known as Twitter for iPhone and be a free application (and will lead to the development of Twitter for the iPad).
The announcement of an "official" Twitter app jangled the nerves of third-party developers, who were justifiably concerned that they will now be competing with Twitter itself.3. Twitter announced the creation of "User Streams"
If you use a desktop Twitter application like TweetDeck, the addition of a "User Streams API" by Twitter should come as good news. It means you won't have to worry about data limits, and you'll see your network's updates quite a bit faster.4. The Library of Congress will archive every public tweet.
The Library of Congress plans to catalog all public tweets dating back to 2006. Moving forward, all tweets will be recorded for posterity within six months of posting.
Why keep such a comprehensive chronicle?
Twitter provides a glimpse into the everyday lives, interests, and opinions of the modern individual. Trending topics shift with the political climate and world events, so our tweets provide insight into the real-time thoughts of people across the planet.
Because in 20 years, I'm gonna want to remember who won in the 2010 battle of Beiber vs. Coco.
5. Google announced two new Twitter tools
Google's never really found a smooth way to tap into Twitter, but the tech giant announced two mildly interesting new projects at this week's conference.
First is a system that graphs the popularity of Twitter topics over time, which is something many sites have tried and failed to do accurately. It will become part of Google's "Updates" search option, and you can see a test version here.
Second is Google Follow Finder, which makes recommendations for which Twitter users you should add to your network. Suggestions are delivered in two categories: "Tweeps you might like" and "Tweeps with similar followers."
6. Twitter has 105 million registered users, up 1,300% from a year ago
About 75% of Twitter's traffic comes from third-party applications (versus, say, direct posts on Twitter.com). On a related note, 37% of tweets are sent from mobile phones.
For lots more statistic madness from the Twitter developer conference, check out this link.