A video on Twitter. Notice the badge in the lower left corner.
Twitter is rolling out the ability to share 30-second video clips and hold private conversations with up to 20 people, the company announced in a blog post today.
Long rumored to be shaping up as an initiative to let users upload long videos (up to 10 minutes) to differentiate them from Twitter's other video platform, Vine, video sharing is instead limited to 30 seconds, and clips won't automatically play in the timeline of Twitter's mobile apps. Twitter has put together a dedicated webpage for videos, confirming that the feature is currently available only on “Apple and Android phones”, suggesting that iPad users won't be able to shoot and post videos with their tablet cameras yet (an unsurprising move from Twitter considering how many functionalities are usually omitted from their iPad app).
Tweets have been more than 140 characters for some time. The Twitter you experience today is rich and immersive, full of images, gifs, Vines, audio files and videos from some of the world’s most recognizable figures and brands. And starting today, everyone will soon be able to seamlessly capture, edit and share videos right from the Twitter app, too.
We designed our camera to be simple to use so you can capture and share life’s most interesting moments as they happen. In just a few taps you can add a video to unfolding conversations, share your perspective of a live event, and show your everyday moments instantly, without ever having to leave the app. Viewing and playing videos is just as simple: videos are previewed with a thumbnail and you can play them with just one tap.
You can now shoot, edit and share video on Twitter. Capture life's most moving moments from your perspective. pic.twitter.com/31JoMS50ha
Given Twitter’s position as a place where news breaks, it’s easy to imagine that you’ll be seeing lots of video in your timeline. (Although it won’t play automatically, as some had suspected.) “We thought, what would Ferguson be like if everyone was armed with a video camera in their pocket?” says Jinen Kamdar, a product director at Twitter. “Or think of the Ellen Oscar selfie. What would the Oscars like once video is available?” But it’s not just news: as Kamdar notes, Twitter is home to a large number public figures, athletes, and celebrities, and many of them are likely to embrace video.
Following last year's promise of changes and improvements coming to DMs, Twitter is also launching group conversations via DMs to let up to 20 people share text, tweets, links, images, and more privately. Users will be able to start conversations with any of their followers, who won't have to follow one another to communicate in the same thread. Twitter is hoping that this design choice will help more people discover interesting users and accounts to follow.
Private conversations on Twitter are a great complement to the largely public experience on the platform. You might prefer to read (or watch) Tweets but converse about them privately. You might want to continue a public conversation privately with a smaller group, or start one based on a Tweet you saw. Many of you use Direct Messages to reach the people and brands you’re only connected to on Twitter. Whatever the case may be, the ability to converse privately with groups gives you more options for how and with whom you communicate on Twitter.
New! Use Direct Messages to speak privately with a group of up to 20 people. Share Tweets, show emoji & be yourself. https://t.co/8giGhC6OO0
There are two important conclusions to be drawn from today's announcements. Twitter is continuing to add features that go beyond traditional text-based tweets; and, there's no mention of these new features coming to third-party clients. As I noted in December, switching to the Twitter app for iOS as my full-time client allowed me to form a different opinion on what Twitter is today: a communication service that encompasses image, video, and rich snippets of the web with Cards and other media.
Today's announcements aren't particularly surprising in the context of Twitter's evolution – in fact, many would argue that Twitter is late to video sharing and group messaging – but they absolutely make sense when you consider the modern Twitter product as a whole. Twitter has long moved past the point of text-based tweets displayed in a traditional timeline, and these two new features add on top of other changes that will likely stay exclusive to Twitter's official app ecosystem.