Twitter loses Reportage for iPhone

Reportage was WhereCloud's insanely creative iPhone Twitter app that let users "tune in" to other users' timeline -- like a radio station for tweets. I say was because Twitter's swerve away from the developer friendliness that helped them build their platform and their rapid acceleration into ownership plays that may -- or may not -- help them ensure its future has led WhereCloud to stop development.

Martin Dufort, who TiPb interviewed as part of our Developer Spotlight series two weeks ago, explains it was the the culmination of 4 changes by Twitter that led to his company's decision:

  1. Twitter stopped allowing modifications to the timeline, so ads couldn't be inserted, and more importantly in Reportages case, their re-ordering to present individual timeline "broadcasts" could be seen as a violation.

  2. Twitter's switch to OAuth and XAuth took considerable time and resources to implement. WhereCloud went with xAuth for the better user experience. (It doesn't force users to go to a browser to grant permission, then come back to the app.)

  3. Twitter's subsequent switch to only allowing direct message (DM) access via OAuth meant WhereCloud then had to consider redoing authentication yet again, because Twitter clients require access to DMs. Twitter's timeline for the switch was also originally very, very tight. At the same time, Twitter for iPhone (made by Twitter) wouldn't be subject to the same terms, making it harder to compete.

  4. Twitter's Director of 3rd Party apps, Ryan Sarver, came straight out and said developers shouldn't be building their own 3rd party Twitter clients.

Taken together, these are all Good Things for Twitter -- they get to control their brand, user experience, and user base, but Bad Things for developers who for years have offered alternatives that arguably helped Twitter grow. It's a Mixed Bag of Things for users who may get a more consistent set of official clients to use, but will lose out on the creativity and innovation that helped make the now official clients great, and could make the next generation of clients even better.

All of this has led to WhereCloud pulling the plug.

We at WhereCloud, innovated with our own Twitter Radio Tuner: @reportage. To this day, this iOS application is still unique and a very good complement to other timeline-based clients. This last requirement to move from xAuth to oAuth will force us to update @reportage again but at what cost given the iceberg will surely hit again.

You win Twitter, your strategy of squeezing 3rd party developers is working with us. We will not update @reportage to support oAuth. We have no choice but to remove it from sale from the AppStore on June 25th.

Stranger still, iOS 5 will include built-in Twitter integration and authentication, so presumably next fall Twitter developers will no longer need to use OAuth on iOS but the new iOS Twitter auth system. Does that mean they'll have to change from xAuth to OAuth now, then to the iOS auth before submitting iOS 5 binaries in 3 months or so? Does it mean cross-platform client makers will have seamless auth in iOS but have ugly OAuth on Android?

And which other clients might call it quits while we're waiting to find out?

[WhereCloud]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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