When Twitter launched the latest version of its iPhone app a few days ago, most users were more than happy to get auto-completion for names and hashtags, among many other improvements. The fact that Twitter now prominently featured the top trending topics in its app – including the promoted trends that Twitter gets paid for – was, according to many users, a major negative of this version and was seen as a sneaky way to push ads to users without delivering any additional value. Some, including the intrepid Apple-watcher John Gruber, even went as far as reverting back to an older backup of their iPhone to get the old version back.
Today, however, just as the complaints gained steam thanks to the #dickbar hashtag on Twitter itself (named after Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo), the company’s self-described “communications guy” Sean Garrett announced that Twitter had already submitted a new version of the app to Apple yesterday “that makes it so the quick bar doesn’t overlay on Tweets.”
While the fact that the quick bar was often blocking the view of some tweets was indeed annoying, the problem here is that the whole concept of the quick bar is annoying to begin with. Indeed, most of the complaints I’ve seen so far have more to do with the existence of the quick bar in the first place and not the way the trends were displayed.
Instead of just fixing this minor bug, Twitter should just make it either optional or giving users a way to pay for the app to make it go away. It’s understandable that Twitter wants to push promoted trends (though, of course, the fact that they have to be promoted means they aren’t really trends to begin with…). In a tweet he posted a short while ago, however, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo argued that giving users the option to turn this feature off would be an “inelegant implementation.” In other tweets, including this one directed at Robert Scoble, he also argued that Twitter should have left the promoted tweets out of the quick bar.
The underlying problem here (more so than the inelegant implementation) seems to be that Twitter thinks there is value in seeing these trends, while for many users, they are simply useless reminders of the fact that there are a lot of Justin Bieber and Charlie Sheen fans on Twitter, too.