After announcing last month that it was working on a new option which would enable users to easily switch between the current, algorithm-defined 'top tweets' timeline, and go back to the reverse chronological tweet flow of old, Twitter has now come through on that commitment, with a new test on iOS which lets users toggle between the two options.
Sometimes you want to see the latest Tweets, first. We’re testing a way for you to make it easier to switch your timeline between the latest and top Tweets. Starting today, a small number of you will see this test on iOS. pic.twitter.com/7NHLDUjrIv— Twitter (@Twitter) October 31, 2018
The process seems pretty straight-forward, with a star icon in the top right of screen, replacing the old tweet compose button (which, not coincidentally, was moved earlier in the day).
There are still a few kinks for Twitter to work out, including how people understand and utilize the toggle, how it affects engagement and whether the app reverts to the algorithm-defined timeline by default when you shut it down. These seem like minor elements, but all of them will need to be taken into account, particularly given that Twitter has been able to boost engagement levels by using a feed algorithm. The last thing Twitter wants is to sacrifice the good work its done on improving platform engagement by pandering to the vocal minority.
And really, that's what this test will reveal - whether there is actually a large group of Twitter users who want to switch back to the reverse chronological timeline, and will welcome the opportunity to do so, or whether people don't actually care that much about it, and won't bother to use it.
By putting the option front and center, its there to be used - the complaints about the algorithm shift, you would think, will simmer down, then the usage insights will tell the real tale.
Of course, even with that rectified, Twitter users will have other things to complain about. An edit button, Twitter's enforcement processes, locked accounts, etc. Twitter has various issues it needs to address, but it is making progress on various fronts, it is making a conscious effort to address the biggest concerns and improve the user experience. While other platforms are adding more and more in, Twitter is working to improve its core elements, which may not spark rapid growth, but will likely help grow usage over time.
It'll certainly be interesting to see how users adapt to this change, or if they adapt at all, and there are various use cases for the option, beyond the desire to simply get rid of the algorithm.
The test is rolling out from today with a 'small number' of users on iOS.