Twitter Launched twttr, A Prototype App To Test New Conversation Features

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After promising to promote healthier conversations on its social platform, Twitter launched a new prototype for the Twitter app called “twttr,” NBC News reports. The prototype is a way for users to provide feedback on proposed changes to the app’s camera, and conversation features. It focuses on having authentic conversations, rather than racking up likes and retweets, according to NBC News. The changes presented in the prototype are aimed at creating a friendlier Twitter experience, says NBC News.

"Twitter is exploring new ways to make the conversations you care about easier to read, understand, and join," a Twitter blog post wrote. The blog post allows everyday users to apply to be part of the program and give feedback about the changes proposed.

The name of the prototype is a callback to Twitter’s original name when it first launched in 2006, according to NBC News. Twitter announced the launch of twttr in a tweet on Mar. 11, and it was initially intended as a way to test new designs for conversations, according to TechCrunch. Basically, twttr was “created to give Twitter a separate space outside its public network to experiment with new ideas about how Twitter should look, feel, and operate,” Sarah Perez wrote for TechCrunch.

The prototype has hidden engagements on tweets, says TechCrunch, so if you want to see how many likes or retweets an individual tweet has gotten, a user would have to tap on that tweet. Replies to individual tweets are indented like chat bubbles rather than divided by a gray line to make it easier to see responses, TechCrunch reports. And people you follow will be highlighted at the top of longer threads with a bright blue line next to their reply, says TechCrunch, so you’re more likely to see their responses.

“We’re [...] working on changing the product and changing the policies to improve the health of the conversations,” Keith Coleman, Twitter’s head of consumer product, told NBC News. Coleman said that the company is also working toward “faster and more proactive enforcement” on the social platform, including the “takedown of accounts spreading hoaxes and conspiracy theories.”

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Twttr has also made enhancements to pictures and videos, adding features that are similar to apps like Instagram and Snapchat, according to NBC News. You can add six different colors, captions, locations, and hashtags in an overlay on photos, videos, and live broadcasts, NBC News reports. And the prototype camera is “smart,” says NBC News, so it knows if you’re at a special event like SXSW, where the prototype app was unveiled, and will suggest that hashtag for you.

“We’ve really intentionally tried to make the images and footage that are captured on the ground at an event look different than other images and videos that you might attach to a tweet,” Coleman told NBC News. “This new ability to follow an event, just like you can follow a person, is going to make Twitter a lot easier for people," Coleman said. "It’s going to unlock a lot of the magic."

If you want to try out the prototype for yourself, you can still apply for Twitter’s Prototype Program. But Engadget says Twitter plans on inviting only around 2,000 English- and Japanese-speaking participants to join the program, so it might be competitive to get in. It’s hard to tell whether you’ll see any of these changes come to the actual Twitter app any time soon, though.