Twitter: It’s not just for 140-character Tweets anymore.
Actually, that’s a bit of a stretch: displaying 140-character Tweets is all Twitter really does, when you come down to it. But a new set of tools will give developers the ability to deep-link mobile apps to Twitter Cards, the feature that displays photos, videos, and other rich content alongside those Tweets. By clicking or tapping on the associated link, Twitter users will have the ability to open and view content within an app, or even download the app itself.
Twitter is adding three new types of Twitter Cards in all: in addition to App cards, there are also Product cards that show an image and description (along with customizable fields for prices and other information) and Gallery cards for collections of photographs (“This card indicates to a user that a gallery has been shared, rather than just one individual photo,” is how Twitter put it).
“We first introduced expanded Tweets with three card types: summary, photo and player/video,” read an April 2 note on Twitter’s developer blog. “Since then, we’ve heard that publishers want to be able to share different types of content. With these new card types, more publishers can show more types of content on Twitter.”
In addition to the Card update, the posting added, “the new Cards system lays a foundation that will make it easier for us to develop more types of Cards in the future and allow for greater customization by publishers and developers.” The new Card system is backwards compatible with Cards developed before this current iteration, meaning the latter will continue to work with Twitter.
Over the past few months, Twitter has focused on building out its features. There was Vine, an iOS app for 6-second videos, along with a new photo service packed with Instagram-style filters and editing tools. It paired with American Express, allowing users to Tweet special product hashtags in order to purchase a product via a synced card. That sort of innovation could allow the micro-blogging service to fend off competition from up-and-coming social networks, not to mention make Facebook and Google+ executives a little nervous.
Come to think of it, Twitter does a lot more than 140-character Tweets.