Twitter showing its hand.
A new UI confirms Twitter's move to simplify and unify the way we use the service but is that really all it does?
As I have previously mentioned, Twitter's plan to simplify the feed and unify the experience across multiple platforms will be its core differentiator while other services become ever more complex and all-encompassing.
Before #newtwitter the service had a simple one column display but all shared content links forced you to jump out to the relevant source. For any service that relies on being a destination the ability to limit the need to leave your site is paramount; it was, therefore, no surprise that linked items such as images and videos would be displayed in situ.
Reducing this need to click away would have had its advantages but doing so by the use of the "media-pane" creates a disparity with other avenues of access which does not fit with the vision of a unified experience.
So, what's new?
Patrick Bisch over at Pinglio posted that Twitter appears to be rolling out a new simplified timeline (and TechCrunch advise us that Twitter has confirmed this is only a small test) after receiving a new UI when using the web site.
Key amongst the changes is that tweets will now display media and related items in-line rather than in the right hand column. Clicking on an open/close toggle (where the arrow to break out the item to the media pane usually sits) will show linked images or videos from Twitter's media partners, the conversation thread or even a list of people who may have retweeted the original item.
While these changes lead to a more streamlined experience in their own right I belive the intention is to enable a view from the web that can be more easily replicated on a smaller screen or even within a mobile application thus presenting the same face regardless of how you use the service.
Keeping it simple
This new UI - which Twitter should roll out as soon as possible in my opinion - seems to be the first step in the direction indicated by CEO Dick Costolo and unifying the user experience will make the service more compelling. Also, as I have posted before, we are unlikely to see anything with regards to metadata as this will just further complicate the issue.
Twitter has been seeking to take control of the client experience for a while and advising developers that they should not be building new ways to tweet but ways to interact with the data. A new UI that displays media and conversations in-line will have the added advantage of matching the existing behaviour of some other third-party clients; having your mobile application function in the same way as the primary web interface will reduce the need for users (especially new ones) to look elsewhere.
Rather than force users away, a new simplified approach will most likely give Twitter greater control over its ecosystem than might have been imagined.
Image via Patrick Bisch at Pinglio