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Some analysts and investors have criticized Twitter for not doing enough to tweak its product and reignite user growth. The company sought to address that on Wednesday by promising to accelerate its pace of product innovation.
During Twitter’s first-ever Analyst Day event, the Twitter team promised to launch new messaging, video creation and content curation features, among other services, in the coming months to make the social network more engaging to new and existing users.
“Over the coming months, we are picking up the pace of product changes and improvements,” Kevin Weil, Twitter’s new head of product, said in a statement on Wednesday. It’s a marked change for a company that insiders say was often hamstrung by indecision in its product development process.
Twitter’s stock and executive team have been hammered in recent months on concerns about slowing user growth. All the new product plans highlighted on Wednesday helped to push Twitter stock up by more than 7% in trading.
Here are all the new features that Twitter’s team announced on Wednesday:
“There are time periods when something incredibly relevant to you as a user could have occurred hours ago before you open up the Twitter app,” Anthony Noto, Twitter’s recently hired CFO, said during the third quarter earnings call last month.
On Wednesday, the company provided the first example of how that might work: Timeline Highlights. The feature will use algorithms to highlight relevant tweets that may have been posted while you were away from the social network, whether you’re a power user or a casual user.
No timeline was given for the launch of Timeline highlights — other than “soon.”
In addition to Timeline Highlights, there is also Instant Timeline. This product is intended to reduce some of the friction of signing up users by showing a timeline of tweets to new users without requiring them to go through the work of searching for people to follow.
“We believe that anyone should be able to come to Twitter and immediately feel deeply immersed in that world,” Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, said of the thinking behind Instant Timeline during the event. He also added that Instant Timeline would be helpful with users who had signed up and come back to the platform, but may not have a “healthy timeline.”
Breaking news alerts
Twitter has experimented with breaking news notifications before, including messages from an account called @eventparrot and push notifications about topics that users are talking about at that moment. The company plans to double down on that effort with fuller breaking news and alerts.
Twitter may also alert users about topics trending on the platform — something it has done in specific markets, but not globally.
Twitter’s team announced at the event that Twitter is working on a tool to let users “take, edit and share video in real-time on the Twitter platform.” In other words, you would be able to upload and share video directly from the Compose Tweet function.
“We believe that during any sort of local event, national event, global event, the opportunity for people, participants, to be live tweeting those things and broadcasting them to the world is a massive opportunity,” Costolo said. “That’s one of the reasons we are so excited about consumer video.”
While the move was framed as being yet another way to boost the experience and quality of information shared on the service, it could also help Twitter push further into video content — and video ads.
The video feature is expected to launch in the first half of 2015.
Improving private messaging
Earlier this year, Twitter announced plans to improve its Direct Messaging service with a couple small tweaks. But bigger changes are coming.
Costolo promised to add “significant functionality to private messaging,” presumably in an effort to catch up more with the fast-growing messaging app space. The first big change will be the ability to finally (finally!) share tweets in Direct Messages so users can more easily go back and forth between private and public conversations. That feature will start rolling out next week.
More standalone apps
Twitter has had mixed success with standalone apps to date: the default app and Vine app have proven successful, a separate Twitter music app did not. But that won’t stop Twitter from expanding into more separate apps in the future.
“Like Vine, we believe there are complementary applications that can live outside of Twitter that will help us grow [to the] largest daily audience in the world,” Costolo said, referencing his new maxim for Twitter’s big goal.
While top execs stayed vague on the apps, they left the door open to creating apps that would use or display content from Twitter proper in different use cases that are not served well by the flagship product.