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Broken Twitter Clients

Posted by Alan at 2:40 PM on September 3, 2010

If you use a Twitter client (either on your desktop or phone) then you may have had a surprise on Tuesday.  A nasty surprise, actually.  That surprise was a broken app.

You probably thought, as I did at first, that Twitter was down.  After all,  that is something we have become used to.  The “Fail Whale”, as it is known, may be one of the most recognized symbols in today’s pop culture.

This time it wasn’t the Fail Whale, though.  It wasn’t Twitter themselves…well, not exactly.  It seems that they switched the log-in process to be compatible with OAuth.  That’s a good thing, but it sure caused a lot of people problems.  They announced that they were going to do this.  They gave plenty of notice.  We, the users, probably didn’t pay attention, but it seems a lot of developers also didn’t pay attention.  And that’s where the problems arose.

Many clients, such as mine (TouchTwit), Twikini, and HTC’s Peep for Android, to name just three, stopped working.  Twikini does not have the resources to update and has shut down.  I would assume HTC has plenty of money to throw at developers to fix Peep and, as of today (Friday) I am seeing that TouchTwit has an update to make it OAuth compatible.

I am glad TouchTwit is fixed, but it’s a bit late since I went and purchased MoTweets.  That is frustrating though because I had paid for TouchTwit a few months ago.  Okay, we’re not talking about bank-breakers here (TouchTwit is $1.99 and MoTweets is $3.99), but I still expect these things to be updated before they are broken and not three days after.

As for Twitter themselves they may have released information that this change was coming, but they apparently did not do a very good job because developers were crying that they had no warning.  Twitter was even forced to send an email to all of its users on Wednesday (the day after they broke the apps) to let everyone know what had happened.  That would have been a prudent move on their part if only they had done it a month, or even a week, before the change went live.  It seems both parties were at fault in this little fiasco.