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A Non-Developer’s Guide To Fabric, Twitter’s New Platform For Mobile Developers
Fabric unites various Twitter tools and services into a platform that the company says will let developers create better apps, build more audience and earn more money
You’ve heard about Twitter Fabric, but what does it matter to the non-developer? Potentially, it means that Twitter might get more integrated into apps and web sites, if developers believe that Fabric can help them. In turn, that means for the marketer, Twitter might grow in importance as an ad and content platform. To explain this more, here’s our rundown on Fabric for the non-developer.
Twitter’s Pitch To Developers
“Hey developers! Want to make money? Want great content for your apps? A better way to deal with crashes? How about an easy way to sign-up new users?”
That was effectively Twitter’s pitch today, that it has a solution it hopes solves all of these things, a platform called Fabric, which it launched today.
What’s In Fabric
- Crashlytics: Stability & Analytics For Apps
- MoPub: Revenue & Ads
- Twitter Kit: Distribution & Content
- Digits: Sign-on & Identity
Next, let’s take them each one-by-one, where I’ll do my best to explain what they mean for a non-developer audience.
Crashlytics: Making More Stable Apps
Crashlytics, which Twitter bought last year, is a system that provides real-time reporting on what’s happening within apps, from user interactions to crashes. Today, Twitter mainly seemed to reannounce the product, with a pitch that using it may lead to more stable apps and thus happier users.
Perhaps the most important announcement was that it added support for the Android NDK. Oh dear, developer stuff. All you need to know is that this may attract some Android developers to use Crashlytics who hadn’t before.
Related, see our previous coverage of the still new “Beta” tool that’s part of Crashlytics: Slick Cross-Platform App Distribution Tool ‘Beta’ Is Released By Twitter’s Crashlytics.
MoPub: Making Money
Show me the money. That’s certainly what many developers want, and they’ve got options to carry ads from systems run by Google, Apple and others. Those others include Twitter, which purchased MoPub last year, a system that helps developers put ads into their apps.
So what’s new? Really, as with Crashlytics, this seemed a reintroduction of MoPub to developers who might not have been aware of it. Bundling MoPub as part of a development package might get more developers to switch over to the system — and so more money to Twitter.
MoPub did announce new native advertising controls earlier this month: Twitter Fine Tunes Controls For MoPub Native App Advertising.
And if you missed the link before, you’ll find MoPub here.
Twitter Kit: Adding Twitter To Apps; Letting Apps Share To Twitter
I’d point you to Twitter’s page about Twitter Kit, but it doesn’t seem to have one yet. I think that’s because Twitter Kit really seems to be a new name that Twitter is applying to all of its various products that let developers tap into Twitter’s content and services, including “APIs” and “SDKs” that let machines talk to each other. Or, that’s it’s applying the Twitter Kit name to how it is making some specific services easier to integrate into apps.
Many of these are listed at the bottom of the Twitter Developers page, and I suspect that within the new Fabric area, they’ll be better united.
Twitter’s pitch about Twitter Kit was effectively that everything is better with Twitter. Does your app need content? How about some tweets! And hey, Twitter has a new way to allow those tweets to be embedded into apps more easily. The new embed info is supposed to be here, but right now, that’s redirecting to the Twitter sign-on product page.
How about letting people share out of your app, which spreads the word about it and may attract new audience? Twitter also said that’s been made much easier with what it calls Tweet Composer. That example above shows this happening with Spotify. You’re listening to a song; you can tweet the song.
But haven’t you been able to do these things before? Sure, but apparently now it’s a lot easier for developers to implement.
Digits: Letting People Sign-On With Phone Numbers
Perhaps the real star of the show, the real groundbreaking announcement, was Twitter Digits. This allows any site or app to let people login using a phone number rather than an email address or social account.
Digits is free and doesn’t require anyone to even have a Twitter account linked to a phone number. Why would Twitter do such a thing? Getting developers into Digits gets them more into Twitter’s overall Fabric system — and thus they become potential partners in the Twitter MoPub ad system.
Getting more people registered in any way with apps and sites also means opportunities to progressively learn more about them. Later, users can perhaps add an email address to a profile, which in turn Twitter and the developer (with permission) would gain.
McDonald’s demonstrated one example of Digits, where someone wants to get a free offer that requires a McDonald’s app. By entering a phone number, they can get the offer immediately and have the app ready to download and use later, when they’re ready — and without a big account creation process.
For more about Digits, please see our separate article on it:
Win The Developers; Win The World?
Let me wrap up with a revisit of Twitter’s wooing of developers. It has some serious ground to recover.
The company’s first developer conference, Chirp, was held in 2010. Twitter never held another, until now. In 2012, the company even formally defined “quadrants” of third-party products and services that it sought to discourage.
To some developers, it seemed as if Twitter wanted to control everything. I won’t get into the politics of it. I think the more important thing is that Twitter has especially grown in the past year or two with aspirations of being more than a destination.
Sure, Twitter wants people to come to Twitter. But it also understands that it can extend its content, its sharing infrastructure and its ad platform to effectively reach a larger audience, especially in the hot mobile space.
The Flight conference is in a large sense an olive branch, an asking for a second chance from developers who may have felt burned before as well as a fresh start with developers who are entirely new to Twitter.
And Fabric is the welcoming gift, It’s Twitter’s present that it hopes those developers will unwrap, like and begin to use. If they do, Twitter grows along with them.