Twitter invades desktops with real-time notifications

small__8476983849Twitter has played a huge role in disseminating real-time information during major events like elections and in times of disasters. Journalists leverage the simplicity of the platform to deliver bite-size news or even links to pertinent articles.

The only drawback to Twitter is that if you’re using a PC, you need to have the site open on your browser to get the latest tweets, or tweak your account settings so you’ll be notified via email if someone sends you a tweet, someone you follow has a new tweet, someone sent you a direct message, or any other action you think is important.

If you’re using the mobile Twitter app, the timeliness of tweets isn’t that big of an issue since you get notifications directly to your mobile device, unless you change your settings so that there are no push notifications from Twitter.

Twitter has therefore announced it’ll be bringing real-time notifications to the desktop so you’ll immediately know when someone is engaging with your Tweets.

Real-time notifications


Twitter is slowly rolling out the new feature and users will know if they already have it.

On your desktop browser, you need to log into your Twitter account for the real-time notification feature to work. When someone has replied, favorited, or retweeted one your tweets, a small Twitter window pops up informing you of the action and from there you can already interact with the notification, for example by replying to the tweet if you wish. You can also receive notifications if someone sends you a direct message or if you have a new follower. Think of it this way, instead of getting those notifications in your email, they’ll pop up in a small window as they happen.

The whole point of the pop-up window is that the service knows people don’t always have Twitter on the foreground, which means even if your browser is closed, or Twitter is hidden beneath a number of tabs, you can immediately interact with tweets that are important to you.

You can edit what notifications to get in the pop up window, in your email, and on mobile. Just go to your Twitter account settings to customize your notifications.

Twitter real-time notificationbs

Like any new feature, Twitter is gradually rolling it out users which means some will get it earlier than others. Some users were introduced to the real-time notification feature as early as January. It’s common for services to test new features with a small number of users to see if they’ll like the new feature or not, and it also helps to iron out any kinks before introducing it to everyone else.

Change is inevitable


Despite the stagnating number of users, Twitter is still considered to be the global platform for public conversation. Because of this, the company saw fit to build the Manhattan database system, a distributed, real-time database designed to serve multiple teams and applications within the company and to allow it to cope with the roughly 6,000 tweets, retweets per tweet and replies that flood into its system every second. Twitter hopes its real-time notification feature will entice more users to engage with the service, meaning more tweets per second, thus the need for an in-house system that is specifically designed for Twitter’s needs.

Twitter is has undergone some major aesthetic changes recently too. Just this week it unveiled a new look, which appears a lot like Facebook, making it easier for new users to enjoy the site, in the hope of attracting more people.

The redesigned Twitter is gradually rolling out to older users, while new users will already have the new look. It’s expected that the design change will also roll out to its mobile app to deliver a more streamlined user experience. And before the design overhaul, Twitter introduced two new features: tagging and collaging. Tagging allows users to tag up to 10 people in a photo without compromising the 140-character space meant for tweets. Users can now upload up to four photos in one tweet and these photos are automatically turned into a collage so pictures look better on your Twitter feed.

photo credit: mkhmarketing via photopin cc