So, Twitter blocked access from Twidroyd and UberTwitter today, citing acceptable use policy violations, then classily pushing their own apps. IMO this would be similar to Google blocking Internet Explorer or Firefox from accessing their services, then telling people “oh, you can use Chrome.”

UberMedia has made some changes to appease the Twitter TOS guardians, and expects to be un-blocked soon.

Anyway, onto the accusations:

These violations include, but aren’t limited to, a privacy issue with private Direct Messages longer than 140 characters, trademark infringement, and changing the content of users’ Tweets in order to make money.

This is the most I’ve been able to find. Let’s break it down:

a privacy issue with private Direct Messages longer than 140 characters

“Privacy issue” is a pretty strong accusation (not that it seems to have actually hurt Facebook).

Here’s a thought: Twidroyd has built-in support for TwitLonger, which will let you route a longer message through a third-party service and then post it as a shorter tweet with a link to the full message.

My guess: this was enabled for all outgoing messages instead of just public tweets, including direct messages. This would make the message (a) visible to Twitlonger itself, and (b) potentially visible to anyone who obtained the URL to that message.

trademark infringement

According to UberMedia, they’ve been working on a name change for UberTwitter for the past three weeks. If that’s the case, it sounds like Twitter is just padding the accusations.

changing the content of users’ Tweets in order to make money

This is a serious accusation, if true. The whole purpose of a communication platform is for one person to convey a message to another person. If that message is altered in transit, it undermines the whole purpose.

But here’s the question: What do they mean by content? Do they mean the exact characters typed in? Do they mean the words? If Twidroyd shortens a URL so that it fits in 140 characters, does that count as changing the content? How about that twitlonger support?

If Twidroyd or UberTwitter prefers a particular URL shortener in exchange for money (just as desktop web browsers prefer a particular search engine), does that count as “changing the content of users’ Tweets in order to make money?”

Isn’t that essentially what Twitter plans to do by forcing all URLs (even those already shortened) through its URL shortener in order to collect data which it can then…*gasp*…monetize?

Edit: And just as I finish the post, I find a post explaining exactly what the issues were. I was right about the privacy issue, though it was with, not twitlonger.

As for changing content, the claim was that UberCurrent (the third app whose name I kept forgetting) was changing affiliate links to point to their own affiliate links instead of the author’s. UberMedia says that they “don’t currently do this,” implying that they may have at some time in the past, or may have been considering it. In any case, that’s a jerky thing to do, if not quite as severe as altering the meaning of a message. I remember a Firefox extension that would let you raise funds for an organization by changing Amazon links to use their affiliate links (eventually discontinued due to Amazon TOS violation), but I think even that made a point of not altering existing affiliate links.

Anyway, It’s a good thing they’re using the Android and Blackberry markets. I expect I’ll see an updated Twidroyd later today (or whenever it is that the phone checks for new apps). From what I’ve heard about the iPhone iOs App Store, it could take as much as a week to get the fixed version approved and out in the hands of its users.

I’ve always wondered how the name of Japan’s currency ended up meaning “craving” or desire in English. It turns out to be coincidence, probably from the Chinese yáhn or yin, “craving.” Word of the Day: yen.

TweetUp acquires Twidroid and changes its name to Twidroyd “to ensure minimal confusion with products from Lucas Films.” Fortunately no one will mistake Lucas Films for Lucasfilm

Last month, KTLA reported on a 3.3 earthquake in the Inland Empire. “Dozens of residents” in the region felt it. Dozens! Wow!

I have to agree with @rzazueta: Woot’s Amazon buyout report is an instant classic (via @boingboing)

Chart of the Day presents: What people are actually doing with their cellphones (aside from talking) based on a Pew survey on mobile internet use. (via @ThisIsTrue)

The major problem I see with the new retweet feature in beta on Twitter is that (for now) the posts are invisible to API clients. Since I do most of my Twitter activity through Twidroid (on my phone) and Twhirl (on the desktop), that means if someone I follow retweets a post using the new feature on the website, I won’t see it.

Update (Nov. 20): That was fast! Twidroid has released a new version that supports the native retweet capability, so now I can see them on my phone. It also lets you choose whether to retweet the classic way (open a post pre-filled with the original, so that you can edit it) or natively. If you use the native version and have multiple accounts, Twidroid Pro is smart enough to use the one that’s following the original poster. I haven’t quite figured out how it decides which account to use when retweeting someone you don’t follow, though.

I’ve been having trouble trying to find a good Twitter app for my Android phone.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. I’m extremely happy with Twidroid, which I’ve been using since I got the phone. The problem is that I need a good second app, because I have two accounts I want to use. Update: This is no longer a problem (see end).

I ♥ Twidroid

I keep going back to Twidroid for two main reasons:

  • It lets me do everything I want to do with Twitter on my phone.
  • It makes the most common tasks as streamlined as possible.

That second item is really the key. Most other Twitter apps I’ve tried tend to get in the way. Want to post something new? Hit the menu button, then choose an item from a pop-up toolbar. Want to open a link? Press and hold, then select from a big long menu.

With Twidroid, buttons for posting a new tweet, showing replies, posting/viewing direct messages, and refreshing the view are right there at the bottom of the screen. One tap and you’re posting. One tap and you’re pulling in new messages. One tap and you’re looking at replies. And you open links by tapping a message, not pressing and holding.

It’s like the “easy button” from the Staples commercials.

Twidroid also ties in to the Android OS, making it easy to share a link directly from the browser, or share a photo directly from the image gallery.

Another nice feature is that it can break down background notifications by category. If I want it to check for replies and direct messages and sound an alert, but not worry about general posts until I look, I can tell it to do so.

I Tweet

I Tweet ($2.99) is very close, and I’ve been using it as my secondary app for several months. It ties into the OS, does photo uploads and URL shortening, lets me customize notifications, etc… but it has a tendency to get in the way. The user interface is pretty, but cluttered. The things I want to do most often require multiple taps (or worse, press-and-hold, like opening a link).

The worst part is that if I don’t let it check periodically for new messages, I can’t tell it to pull in new ones when I launch it… and it won’t always retrieve older posts. If I post something before hitting refresh (which is hidden behind the menu button), it won’t pull in anything further back than the post I just made.

Trial and Error

At this point, I’ve got my personal account @KelsonV set up on Twidroid. That’s the one I have linked to this blog and to Facebook. I’ve got @SpeedForceOrg running on I Tweet. I’ve been using it a lot lately with the lead-up to Comic-Con International, and those few problems have started really bothering me.

So I tried a bunch of others this weekend.

  • Twitli – I used this one for a while a few months ago, but it was kind of buggy. The last straw came when I was trying to upload a photo during WonderCon, and I switched the account to Twidroid for the duration of the con. I only gave it a glance this time around.
  • Loquacious – nice w/ multiple accounts & photo integration, but incomplete. No notifications, can’t share a link from browser — heck, no settings at all other than login+password and filters. Either that or the demo is crippleware in addition to being time-limited. Also, suffers from press-n-hold syndrome like I Tweet.
  • Twitta – too basic.
  • Twit2go – Photo uploads worked decently, and it was able to do notifications the way I wanted, but it didn’t hook into the OS as well as Twidroid or I Tweet. And it was yet another case of press-and-hold to open a menu that includes opening links. I decided to stick with it for a few days, though, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it did pull new messages automatically when opened, so I wouldn’t have to worry about missing anything. Gave up on it when I tried to retweet a post that ended up being too long, and rather than let me edit it down to size it just cut off the end…which happened to be the link.

So I’m back to Twidroid and I Tweet for now. I’ll probably end up swapping the accounts again and putting SpeedForceOrg on Twidroid, since that’s the one I’m likely to be using most during the con. *sigh* Why do I have to make things more complicated for myself than they have to be?

Update: A few months after I wrote this, Twidroid released Twidroid Pro, which adds several features on top of the free version…including multiple accounts!

It’s a trending topic, but there’s a lot of misunderstanding about the Twitpocalypse. Here’s what’s going on, in layman’s terms (I hope).

What’s happening?

  1. Every Twitter post has an ID number that goes up by 1 each time.
  2. When a computer program stores a number, it sets aside a certain amount of space for it. Bigger numbers take more space because they have more digits.
  3. One common format is called a “signed integer.” It has 32 binary digits (1 or 0 only) with one digit set aside to indicate a minus sign. The biggest number it can store is 2,147,483,647.
  4. Twitter’s status IDs are approaching that number.

So what’s the likely impact?

  • Twitter itself can handle bigger numbers and will be fine.
  • Third-party apps that store the ID in a bigger format will be fine.
  • Third-party apps that store the ID as text instead of a number will be fine.
  • Third-party apps that store the ID in this particular format will end up with bad IDs as they try to cram a big number into a small space.

If I were to guess, the most likely breakage would be that replies might be attached to the wrong previous post — but again, only with apps that use this particular format for numbers.

Twitter itself will probably sail through cleanly (and has been planning to move up the schedule so that affected app developers don’t have to fix things in the middle of the night), so don’t expect any fail whales. Unless so many clients have problems that lots of people switch to the website.

Update: Not surprisingly, most Twitter clients are unaffected by the Twitpocalypse. I’ve used both Twidroid and Twhirl with no problems since Twitter passed the mark. I figured a few would get tripped up, but the real surprise is that it hit Twitterrific. One of the most popular clients on the iPhone? They do have an update, but a lot of people are unable to connect.