Twitter is going to make third-party apps worse starting in August

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Twitter has long had a strange disdain for third-party Twitter apps, but it’s allowed many of them to pass under the radar for the last several years. That’s starting to change this summer, when Twitter will revoke a key piece of access that developers currently have to the service, replacing it with a new access system that limits what they can do. The changes aren’t going to make third-party Twitter clients useless, but they are going to make the apps somewhat worse.

The changes, which go into effect August 16th, do two main things: first, they prevent new tweets from streaming into an app in real time; and second, they prevent and delay some push notifications. Neither of these are going to break Twitter apps completely, but they could be very annoying depending on how and where you use it.

The first change means the Twitter timeline has to be manually refreshed. That’s not necessarily a huge deal on mobile, as you’re probably used to pulling to refresh the timeline anyway. Luke Klinker, the developer behind the Android Twitter client Talon, said that only 2 to 3 percent of his users ever turned on the auto-refresh feature, or what’s known as streaming to Twitter client makers, because it was such a drain on battery. Craig Hockenberry, a senior engineer at Iconfactory, which makes Twitterrific, said it would be a bigger problem in some scenarios, like when you’re watching an event on TV. “Pulling to refresh in those cases works, but is awkward and feels ‘slow,’” he writes in an email to The Verge.

On the desktop, the lack of streaming could be a bigger issue. Twitter apps can still request that your timeline be refreshed, but they can only do it so often. If you’re the kind of person who absolutely needs to see every tweet the second it’s tweeted, that’ll be a problem.

But it might still be fine for some users. Tapbots co-founder Paul Haddad, who’s behind the Mac and iOS app Tweetbot, says that his apps are already set up to automatically check Twitter for updates “every so often” when a user has streaming disabled. “As an anecdote, we’ve had users running without streaming for months for one reason or another and not even notice,” he writes in an email to The Verge.

Push notifications could be more of a problem. On mobile, it sounds like they’re either going to vanish or be severely limited. Klinker has never had access to the developer tools that allow for push notifications, so the Talon app has never supported them. He has been able to create workarounds, like having the app occasionally request updates in the background, but it can’t receive all types of notification and, again, it’s a drain on battery.

That’s an annoying change, especially since the type of people who download third-party Twitter apps are probably the type of people who like to stay engaged on Twitter. It could also be a major issue for Twitterrific, which is available for free on iOS but charges $3 for access to notifications. That in-app purchase is Twitterrific’s “primary revenue stream,” according to Sean Heber, an engineer at Iconfactory. The feature will essentially be broken, or at least partially broken, once Twitter enacts these changes. “So this is a big problem,” he wrote in a tweet.

On the desktop, notifications will be limited, but not as dramatically. Haddad says that like and retweet notifications will stop working on Tweetbot for Mac, and other notifications will be delayed by one to two minutes.

There may be other, unexpected issues too. Heber said it’s still unknown if direct messages will work on mobile. Haddad said he expects issues on mobile to primarily revolve around push notifications, but that he wasn’t ready to detail the exact impact yet.

Twitter will offer developers a way to buy access to a new API that will enable all the old, real-time features. But the service appears to be extremely limiting and prohibitively expensive for consumer app developers. I suspect it’s likely meant for companies doing data analysis or offering financial services; something that can be sold for much more money. Twitter’s pricing comes out to $11.60 per user per month, and that’s only if an app doesn’t go above 250 users. Any more than that and they have to negotiate a deal for greater access. And given Twitter’s well-known disinterest in third-party Twitter apps, it’s unlikely this would be an option for developers.

While developers aren’t exactly thrilled with the way Twitter’s changes have turned out, it sounds like they aren’t too shaken either. “We’d obviously prefer to continue to offer things in as real-time a manner as possible, but not being able to do that is not the end of the world,” Haddad said.

Klinker said most users of Talon and other recent Android Twitter apps won’t notice any changes, since they never had access to push notifications anyway. They also aren’t likely to get some new Twitter features, he said, like polls. “My users won’t see any changes, but Twitter has restricted what I hoped to be possible for the future,” he wrote. Klinker said he was excited for the API changes because it could have finally granted his app access to notifications, but Twitter’s pricing makes it “clear that push notifications for third-party apps is the last thing Twitter wants these APIs used for, which is disappointing.”

Twitterrific for iOS should “mostly keep working without push, in theory,” wrote Heber. He said Iconfactory will “still expect to keep the app running with reduced functionality for as long as we can.”

“One thing I’m concerned that Twitter doesn’t understand: a lot of the folks who use our apps are longtime users who are highly engaged with the service,” Hockenberry said. “These folks aren’t served well by the official client and are likely to find a different outlet for their social media needs.”

[“Source-theverge”]

Theresa May defeats bid to make her launch part two of Leveson inquiry

Brian Leveson wrote to the government earlier this year insisting the second phase of his inquiry should be ‘commenced as soon as possible’. Photograph: Paul Hackett/Reuters

The government has narrowly defeated a Labour bid to force it to launch the second phase of the Leveson inquiry into press behaviour.

MPs were voting on an amendment to the data protection bill tabled by the former Labour leader Ed Miliband. The government won the vote by 304 votes to 295, a majority of nine.

The Conservative manifesto for last year’s general election said Theresa May’s government would not proceed with the second stage of Leveson. During a two-hour debate on Wednesday, the culture secretary, Matt Hancock, said it would be the wrong way of tackling the most pressing questions facing the media industry.

He praised the low-cost arbitration system for victims of press intrusion set up by the Independent Press Standards Organisation). Ipso is voluntary, and not officially recognised.

“I am determined that we have a system that is strengthened so that we have recourse to justice when things go wrong,” he said. “The choice isn’t between doing something, and nothing. It is between doing something, and something better.”

Sir Brian Leveson was appointed in July 2011 in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal that led to the closure of the News of the World, and spent many months examining witnesses, ultimately reporting in November 2012.

When the inquiry was launched, a second phase was envisaged, which would cover cases under criminal investigation when phase one was carried out. Leveson wrote to the government earlier this year insisting he believed the second phase of his inquiry should be “commenced as soon as possible”. Ed Miliband attacks government’s axing of new Leveson inquiry – video

The shadow media secretary, Tom Watson, opted not to press for a vote on a separate amendment he had tabled, aimed at forcing the government to trigger section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act of 2013.

Passed in the wake of Leveson, section 40 would impose punitive legal costs on English media organisations that refused to sign up to an officially recognised press regulator. At present, the only such regulator is Impress.

Hancock robustly rejected the idea of implementing section 40, warning that it would accelerate the decline of local newspapers and undermine investigative reporting.

Allies of Watson said he had dropped his bid to force a vote on the issue when it became clear that the SNP would abstain – but some Labour MPs had also expressed concerns.

Miliband, who tabled the Leveson 2 amendment, gave an angry speech, accusing the Conservatives of abandoning promises made to the victims of the phone-hacking scandal by him and his then fellow leaders, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

“No ifs, no buts, no maybes. A clear promise. And a promise to victims of the press. And here we are today, and we have the government saying: ‘Let’s dump this promise, it’s too expensive, it’s a distraction.’ How dare they! How dare they, to the McCanns, the Dowlers, all those other victims … I say to members across the house, whatever party they are in, this is about our honour. This is a matter of honour about the promise we made,” he said.

“We said to them that this time it will be different, this time we won’t flinch, I promise you we will see this process through.”

Labour’s Liam Byrne said: “If we have learned one thing from the last 10 to 12 years, whether it is the expenses scandal, whether it is Hillsborough, whether it is Orgreave: it is never the right thing to look at a scandal and decide it is too expensive, or we’re too busy, to get to the bottom of what happened. And that is the core of the argument to let Brian Leveson finish his job.”

The veteran Tory MP Ken Clarke pointed out to Hancock that both of them had served in the previous Tory government, which promised to carry out Leveson 2. He accused his colleagues of “currying favour with newspaper proprietors and editors”.

“Why is he cancelling a previously promised inquiry? What on earth is the reason for stopping investigations into the kind of thing we are talking about? No one else would stop investigations like this into any other body in this country,” Clarke said.

Hancock insisted the Leveson inquiry had been a “thorough and diligent examination” of the activities of the press. “The inquiry was followed by three major police investigations leading to more than 40 convictions,” he said.

Hancock sparked anger on Labour benches by announcing that the government had ordered a review into the compliance of the media in Northern Ireland with new media rules, in an apparent concession to the DUP.

The government relies on the votes of the DUP’s MPs to secure a majority, and the DUP’s Ian Paisley described the review as “Leveson for Northern Ireland”.

Miliband asked: “Why can there be a Leveson for NI and not for the rest of the UK?”

[“Source-theguardian”]

Nintendo, Cygames Partner to Make Mobile Games, Dragalia Lost Coming This Summer

Nintendo, Cygames Partner to Make Mobile Games, Dragalia Lost Coming This Summer

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Nintendo is buying a 5-percent stake in Cygames
  • Cygames is best known for Granblue Fantasy
  • Dragalia Lost is a action role-playing game

Japanese video game maker Nintendo said on Friday it has teamed up with Tokyo-based online games developer Cygames, aiming to step up the mobile gaming business and reduce reliance on volatile console sales.

The Kyoto-based company will buy a 5 percent stake in unlisted Cygames, known for its blockbuster Granblue Fantasy game, for an undisclosed amount.

As part of the tie-up, Nintendo will release a jointly developed action role-playing game called Dragalia Lost for smartphones this summer, Nintendo said.

The game will be launched in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau at first, and later in North America and Europe.

Nintendo entered mobile gaming under partnership with online gaming firm DeNA Co in 2015 as part of an effort to stabilise earnings highly dependent on its volatile games console business.

 

It has since released several mobile gaming titles including Super Mario Run, using its popular Super Mario Bros characters.

Nintendo said on Thursday it expects operating profit to rise 26.7 percent in the year through March to a nine-year high, as its Switch games console maintains sales momentum in its second year.

The initial success of the hybrid home-portable Switch has boosted Nintendo’s gaming software sales and encouraged more third-party publishers to make games for the console, a cycle which could further push up console sales.

The Kyoto-based company also said it named Managing Executive Officer Shuntaro Furukawa as new president to succeed Tatsumi Kimishima, effective after the general shareholders meeting in June.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

InstantCAD Tool Promises to Make 3D Design Easier and Faster

InstantCAD Tool Promises to Make 3D Design Easier and Faster

To make computer-aided design (CAD) programmes process easier and faster, researchers have developed a new tool called “InstantCAD” that lets designers interactively edit, improve and optimise CAD models using a more streamlined workflow.

Developed by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Columbia University, “InstantCAD” integrates with existing CAD programmes as a plug-in.

“From more ergonomic desks to higher-performance cars, this is really about creating better products in less time,” says Adriana Schulz, lead author of the study.

“We think this could be a real game changer for automakers and other companies that want to be able to test and improve complex designs in a matter of seconds to minutes, instead of hours to days,” Schulz said in a paper that will be presented at SIGGRAPH computer-graphics conference in Los Angeles this month.

With “InstantCAD”, the process of improving and optimising the design can be done in real-time, saving engineers days or weeks, the research said.

After an object is designed in a commercial CAD programme, it is sent to a cloud platform where multiple geometric evaluations and simulations are run at the same time.

Users can instantly improve and optimise the design in two ways with this precomputed data.

With “interactive exploration”, a user interface provides real-time feedback on how design changes will affect performance, like how the shape of a plane wing impacts air pressure distribution.

With “automatic optimisation”, users can simply tell the system to give a design with specific characteristics, like a drone that’s as light in weight as possible while still able to carry the maximum amount of weight.

“‘InstantCAD’ could be particularly helpful for more intricate designs for objects like cars, planes, and robots, particularly for industries like car manufacturing that care a lot about squeezing every little bit of performance out of a product,” said Wojciech Matusik, Associate Professor at MIT.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]