Twitter has begun rolling out a new “while you were away” feature, which presents a recap of important tweets users may have missed since their last login.
The feature pins what Twitter considers to be the best tweets to the top of a user’s timeline the next time they open their Twitter app or browse the website.
It works in a similar manner to Facebook’s news feed, which presents status updates and posts in a ranked manner, not necessarily in chronological order. It is the first major Twitter feature beyond promoted tweets and adverts to sort tweets in a non-chronological fashion.
“Every time you open the Twitter app, you’ll see something great,” Twitter said when it announced the new feature as part of its “Timeline Highlights” improvements.
The “while you were away” feature is designed to preserve important tweets that could get drowned out by the rapid flow of tweets on a daily basis. More than 500m tweets are sent a day, with many users following hundreds of accounts, making Twitter timelines a torrent of rolling thoughts.
User reactions range from delight and demands to get the feature sooner to confusion and frustration. A gradual rollout to more users is expected.
The new feature is part of Twitter’s plan to rein in Facebook’s lead. Facebook has 1.3 billion users to Twitter’s 284 million.
Twitter is also exploring ways to make it easier for new users to engage with the service with its “instant timeline”, which will offer content without needing users to search for accounts to follow.
The number of Twitter users could be roughly doubled to more than 550 million in the “intermediate term”, with a longer-term goal of 1-billion-plus, executives said during the company’s analyst day.
This article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Thursday 1st January 2015 12.45 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010