Twitter is finally modernizing its core APIs after 7 years of stagnation, and it wants early feedback from developers. That’s why today it’s launching Twitter Developer Labs, which app makers can sign up for to experiment with pre-release beta APIs. First up will be real-time streaming access to the Twitter firehose with the expansion of tweet filtering plus impressions and engagement metrics that were only previously only available in its expensive enterprise API tiers. Twitter will also be adding newer features Polls to the API.
Giving developers longer lead-times and more of a voice when it comes to rebuilding its APIs could help Twitter get more app makers paying for its premium API ($339 to $2.899 per month) and enterprise API tiers (even more expensive). It might also stimulate the creation of dev-made analytics, measurement, and ads businesses that convince brands to spend more money on Twitter marketing. The Labs program will roll out in the coming weeks, but people can sign up for developer accounts in the meantime to get prepped for access.
Twitter’s data and enterprise solutions product manager Ian Cairns acknowledged some of the whiplash Twitter has put developers through in the past, rapidly changing strategies and restricting rate limits in ways that made developers’ businesses unsustainable. “There are certainly times over the years when the ways in which we’ve managed our APIS . . . have changed and we know some of those have changed in ways that have been disruptive to developers. What we’re doing with the Twitter Developer Labs program is focusing on trying to use that as a vehicle to build trust and make sure we’re having a two-way conversation and that the voice of the people who use our platform the most are driving the future.”
The announcement comes two years after Twitter announced a streamlining of its APIs that also instituted the paid tiers. And this year, Twitter has made moves to crack down on API use for spamming and services for buying followers.
Developer Labs will act serve as the nerdy brother of the new “twttr” beta consumer app that launched in March to let people try out potential changes to how replies and the feed work. Twitter writes that “Our initial focus in Labs will be on developers who work with conversational data, including academics and researchers who study and explore what’s happening on Twitter, and social listening and analytics companies that build products for other businesses.”