Twitter has renewed its iOS and Android app offerings, making significant layout and functionality changes and putting focus back onto its direct messaging service.
The changes, detailed on Twitter's official blog, also allow users to attach images to direct messages. This puts the firm's private communications channel in line with rival messaging platforms that have gained popularity among social media users, including Snapchat, WhatsApp and Facebook. The images can be attached directly to messages, so they do not take up any of the message's 140 characters.
As well as upgrading direct messaging, Twitter has changed the design of its iOS app, allowing users to swipe left and right to navigate from their main feed, the Discover feed and the Activity feed. The menu at the bottom of the screen has been altered, changing "connect" to "notifications", and the messaging feature has been given its own dedicated button.
Since Twitter became a publicly traded company in November, the firm's investors will be watching closely to see how it augments its mobile applications' features to make them appealing for consumers and to increase revenue. Adding images to direct messages puts Twitter in direct competition with well-established messaging apps, which have piqued the interest of analysts and investors, especially since photo messaging platform Snapchat rejected a $3bn buyout offer from Facebook in November.
Businesses using Twitter for customer service and marketing will also be interested by Twitter's focus on direct messaging. Earlier this year Twitter tested the ability for users to send direct messages to those they do not follow, and who do not follow them. If rolled out in the future, this feature would be a useful way for businesses to communicate with customers privately rather than via public tweets.
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