Twitter made a bold move beyond 140 characters on Wednesday when the microblogging company launched a new service aimed at developers it hopes will get its technology embedded in a new generation of apps and services.
More than 1,000 developers packed the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco for Flight, Twitter’s first developers conference since it became a public company.
The chief executive, Dick Costolo, said the new service, called Fabric, was designed to help mobile app developers at every stage of their development. The free service will help with analysing crashes, mobile ads and embedding the company’s real-time information in new services.
“We power it, and then we get out of the way,” he said. “All of us are so excited to be here today to unveil what we believe is the future of mobile software development.”
The move brings Twitter into direct competition with Amazon, Facebook and Google, which provide the back-end support and tools that developers need to build mobile apps. The company announced a list of companies, including AOL, Kickstarter, McDonalds and Spotify, which are already using Fabric’s services.
It comes after a series of disappointing results from Twitter, whose user growth rate is slowing even as it proves it can be a profitable business. Twitter reports its quarterly earnings next week. Last quarter the company received a strong boost from the World Cup and revenues soared. However, Twitter also reported a continued decline in how much time people were spending on the service.
But the company is betting its mobile expertise, gained from working in 216 countries and 28 languages, will prove so attractive help the company grow use of its service.
Fabric will have three components:
• MoPub, an ad service for mobile developers Twitter bought for $350m in 2013, will help developers monetise their apps.
• Crashlytics, which Twitter bought for $100m in 2013, will help developers debug and test new apps.
• TwitterKit, launched at the conference, which will allow apps to seamlessly integrate Twitter’s real-time information. Popular transport app Citymapper, for example, unveiled it will now have live updates from San Francisco’s Bart train system, the London Underground and others.
The company also announced a new service it hopes will replace email and password sign-in on mobile. The service, called Digits, will enable people to sign up for new apps in two steps – sending a request and confirming their mobile number. Jeff Seibert, Crashlytics’ co-founder, said he hoped the service would prove more secure than passwords and more popular than “social log-ins” – where people use Facebook or other social media companies to confirm their identity.
The event was Twitter’s first developers conference in four years. The company’s early hits including the use of the @ symbol and # tags were driven by developers. But as Twitter grew it sought to gain greater control of its platform and relations with developers soured.
Kevin Rogers, developer with mobile tech company Live2, said the pendulum had swung and Twitter was now courting innovators from outside the company again.
“We are always looking for new stuff to do and so is Twitter. We’re small and they are really big, so it will be interesting to see what we can do with them,” he said.
Filip Mares at Talko, a mobile communications platform, said he was excited by what Twitter had to offer and that the company could stand out from the competition. “Apple has a great interface, Google’s great in search and analytics, Twitter has this unique social aspect. They each have something and I think in this market it’s important to build for all these platforms if you want the biggest audience.”
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk