Twitter rolls out new apps; iOS versions support Apple’s ad blockers

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Twitter is cleaning up its look and enabling people to clear out ads on web pages opened within its iOS apps.

On Thursday, Twitter began rolling out a redesign of its mobile apps, sites and TweetDeck to make the social network look less cluttered.

While many of the changes are cosmetic, potentially the most consequential update is that Twitter’s iOS apps’ in-app browsers will now open links using Apple’s Safari View Controller. As a result, when iPhone and iPad owners are viewing a web page within Twitter’s in-app browser, they will now be able to block ads and tracking cookies that the page is trying to load, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed.

Apple’s Safari View Controller makes in-app browsers work the same as Apple’s native Safari browser. For example, if someone uses AutoFill on Safari to automatically fill out forms using information stored with Apple — like contact information, usernames and passwords — they can now use it when viewing a web page within an app like Twitter without Twitter being able to access that data. It also enables cookies stored on the native Safari browser to be accessed within the in-app browser, so if you’re signed in to a paywalled site like The Wall Street Journal on Safari, you’ll already be logged in when opening a WSJ link on Twitter and won’t hit the paywall.

But Apple’s Safari View Controller also makes it easier to view web pages within apps without ads. People can switch to Safari’s Instapaper-style Reader mode, which eliminates ads from a page, and Twitter is giving people the option to set the app to always open links using Reader mode. And since Apple’s Safari View Controller began supporting mobile ad blockers in 2015, people who have installed and activated a content-blocking app on their iPhones and/or iPads can have that app remove or disable ads, cookies, autoplay videos and other elements from web pages opened using Twitter’s in-app browser.

Decluttering Twitter’s design

While Twitter’s switch to Safari View Controller appears to be the biggest change Twitter is making on Thursday, it’s not the only one in a redesign that sweeps across Twitter’s product portfolio.

For example, Twitter is removing the “Me” tab from its app’s bottom menu and slotting the section for people to pull up their own profiles and settings as a slide-out menu that appears when people swipe right. Twitter had already made that change on its Android app a year ago.

Some of the other changes are purely cosmetic — circular profile photos, bolder type for section headers, more consistent typography — and some changes are cosmetic with a functional purpose, like a redesign of the reply button icon from an arrow to a speech bubble. “People thought the reply icon, an arrow, meant delete or go back to a previous page,” said Twitter VP of Design and Research Grace Kim, in a company blog post announcing the redesign.

In keeping with Twitter’s “live” mantra, the retweet, reply and like counts for individual tweets will now automatically update so that people are always shown the latest numbers, though not if those people are using Twitter’s regular site or its Twitter Lite mobile site.

About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.


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