Twitter Hits Its Stride, Plans New Features

The micro-blogging site reveals plans for geolocation services, official mobile clients, and its own URL shortening service.

Twitter has more than 105 million users and is adding more than 300,000 new ones every day, the micro-blogging network said this week at its developer conference, Chirp, in San Francisco. Twitter also used the event to announce several new features, such as geolocation services, more official mobile clients, and its own URL shortening service.

At the event, Twitter unveiled some previously undisclosed statistics, such as its staggering number of users. With more than 100 million users, Twitter is now in the big league of social networks, alongside the likes of Facebook, which still reigns supreme with more than 400 million users.

Unlike Facebook though, Twitter gets most of its traffic from outside of its Twitter.com site. Twitter said that 75 percent of its traffic comes from outside sources, mainly third-party applications like TweetDeck or mobile clients. Twitter does recognize the importance of having its own official mobile apps, though; last week, it bought the popular iPhone client Tweetie and worked with BlackBerry maker Research In Motion to bring an official client for that platform as well.

Google's Android mobile OS will soon be graced with its own official Twitter app too, Twitter announced Wednesday. However, it's not known whether the social network will acquire an existing Android app or develop the app in conjunction with device makers. An official client for Palm's WebOS platform was not mentioned.

Another Twitter feature that was previously filled by third parties is short URLs. Services like Bit.ly or Is.gd, which turn a long Web address into a shorter string of characters fit for adding into a 140-characters tweet, have thrived with the growth of Twitter. But Twitter plans to launch its own URL shrinker, used on Twitter.com. Users will still be able to insert short links from other services, but only if they use third-party Twitter clients.

Geolocation on Twitter is bound to get more interesting as well. Users have been able to attach their location to each of their messages for a while now, but several new features announced on Wednesday could pit Twitter against dedicated geolocation services such as Foursquare or Gowalla.

Together with Twitter, developers are set to build a huge database of locations all over the world, called 'points of interest'. Using this database and geolocation, users will be able to reveal their exact location, as well as search for messages written from a certain location. This would pave way for searchable points of interest reviews or advertising deals with businesses.

Follow @pcworld and Daniel on Twitter @danielionescu.

This story, "Twitter Hits Its Stride, Plans New Features" was originally published by PCWorld.

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