So. Twitter finally has a premium subscription offering.
It’s called Twitter Blue—see the announcement here—and it’s got a few nice-to-haves along with some gaps yet to be filled.
For now, it’s live in Canada and Australia, with availability in the U.S. and other countries TBD. The company says it’ll be listening to feedback and adding features over time, but here’s what you get (and don’t get) at the moment.
What you get
There are three main features on tap for Twitter Blue subscribers: Bookmark Folders, Undo Tweet, and Reader Mode.
Bookmark Folders is pretty much like it sounds: Save a tweet, and you have the ability to stuff it into a custom-made folder or create a new one.
Undo Tweet is not the ability to edit tweets that many a Twitter user has long been pining for. Instead, you’re able to preview a tweet before it goes live for a customizable period of up to 30 seconds. If you spot a typo or regret what you were about to tweet, you can hit the Undo button, and try again.
Reader Mode is a visually appealing feature that strips cruft away from long tweet threads and presents them in a much more readable, blog-type format.
Aside from those three main features, you can customize the mobile app icon for your phone’s home screen, choose various color schemes for the app itself, and call on dedicated customer support.
In Canada, Twitter Blue is $3.49 a month; in Australia, it’s $4.49. For those of us stateside, $3.49 CAD is roughly $2.88 and $4.49 AUD is roughly $3.47. So although U.S. pricing hasn’t been announced, something around $3 or so feels about right. No word on release dates in other locales other than “in the near future.”
There are a couple other things to bear in mind as well.
First, this is primarily for iPhone users, with feature parity in the web version to follow later. It’s not available for Android users at all yet, and won’t be until “later this year.”
And if you have multiple Twitter handles, you’ll need to pay a separate subscription fee for each one.
What about ads?
They’re still there. The company touts Blue as “simply meant to add enhanced and complementary features to the already existing Twitter experience for those who want it.”
This looks to be a deal breaker for plenty of people at the moment if the replies to the @TwitterBlue account’s tweets are any indication.
I MIGHT consider paying $5 to get rid of ads! Too many ads have been shown in my timeline.
— Perrine V. Crampton (@pcrampton) June 3, 2021
A few bucks per month might be worth it to get rid of promoted tweets and the suggested topics that seem to be all over everyone’s timelines, but it looks like those will be staying put for now.
What do Twitter users want?
- No ads, sponsored tweets, or suggested topics
- The ability to edit tweets, not just undo them
- Longer, higher-quality video uploads
- The ability to search liked and bookmarked tweets
- Filterable notifications
- Better feature parity between mobile and desktop
- The ability to pin multiple tweets
Those are the feature requests that seem to be surfacing multiple times, so we’ll see how many of them make it into future releases.
An actual edit button. Every other platform allows this, including ones with far larger audiences and reach—Facebook, WordPress, Tumblr, on and on.
Set constraints. Maybe don’t allow us to change the link. Let us view change history. Whatever. Figure it out.
— David Chartier (@chartier) June 4, 2021
Is it worth it?
Given that there’s just a handful of quality-of-life features on offer here at the moment, Blue is a tough sell right now.
The overwhelming sticking point seems to be that ads aren’t going anywhere, so eliminating them looks to be one surefire way to get a lot more people on board.
A close second to that objection: people either saying that Bookmark Folders, Undo Tweet, and Reader Mode should be free, and/or that all three features aren’t that hard to replicate either with workarounds, third-party services, or . . . you know . . . just deleting your tweet.
But in Twitter’s defense, look: this is software, and software is pliable. Sometimes you’re under immense pressure to just get the thing—something, anything—out the door and then keep improving it.
(If I sound like a recovering product manager, well . . . please don’t make me go back there.)
I would be shocked if it turns out that Twitter Blue’s initial incarnation is all it’s ever supposed to be. There’s just not enough here that the company could have reasonably expected this to be a hit in its current form.
In that spirit, Twitter’s been transparent about the idea that Blue is “going to be a journey and this is just the start.” As it stands now, the company has gotten the service out the door, it’s collecting feedback, and it looks like the plan is to keep adding features—ideally the ones that people are most often requesting.