5 new features Twitter is testing in its iOS app
Twitter is experimenting with some interesting new features.
Twitter is experimenting with some interesting new features.
Image: Shutterstock / jtstockimage

It's not just you: Twitter has been experimenting with a lot more features lately. 

From "original tweeter" tags, to "good morning" news briefs, the service has been testing a ton of tweaks to make it easier to keep up with conversations and news unfolding on its platform.

Now, we have a new look at a whole other set of features it appears Twitter has been quietly experimenting with, including improvements to night mode, encrypted direct messages, and new ways to use GIFs.

The features were discovered by social media consultant Matt Navarra, who tells Mashable he was able to access unreleased features by digging around in the code Twitter's iOS app. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on specifics, but said the company regularly experiments with many new features, and that not all of its tests launch more broadly.

So, take the following with a grain of salt, but here are some of the most interesting features Twitter is toying with.

1. Improved night mode

Twitter is testing two big updates to its popular "night mode," which uses a darker color scheme. The first: a night mode that's actually black instead of the dark blue it currently is. This is something that's irked some Twitters users and CEO Jack Dorsey said last month the company plans to "fix."

Besides just fixing the colors, it appears Twitter is testing an automated version of the feature, which would function similarly to Night Shift in iOS. With "automatic night mode," Twitter's dark theme could automatically kick in at sunset and turn off at sunrise.

2. Encrypted direct messages

Encrypted messaging is something that's been on many people's Twitter wish list for some time, and now we have yet another sign that it might actually happen. Dorsey told Edward Snowden back in 2016 that he would "think about" encrypted direct messages, but we haven't heard much from the CEO since, though the feature was spotted last year in Twitter's Android app.

Despite these comments, it's still not clear exactly how this would work, but the fact that it says "message encryption is not available" would certainly seem to imply some sort of encryption availability — eventually.

Navarra followed up in a subsequent tweet saying he had heard from a source that encryption had been planned for late 2018, but the work had now been "paused," for reasons that aren't clear. More waiting!

3. GIF reactions

Twitter might make it even easier to use GIFs in replies. Navarra spotted a new "react with GIF" option. While Twitter already includes a shortcut to add GIFs to tweets, this option would apply specifically to retweets, so you could add a GIF in top of a tweet.

4. News, Friends, and Highlights

One of the more intriguing features Navarra spotted was three new additions to Twitter's side navigation bar: news, friends, and highlights. It's not clear what these options are for, but it could be a new way to filter your timeline. Navarra speculates that "friends" could show you tweets from people who follow you who you follow back, for example. 

In a subsequent tweet, Navarra, citing an unnamed source, said Twitter was no longer "actively working on "news"and "friends." But he made no mention of "highlights," so it sounds like that one could still be on the table  — perhaps as an extension of Twitter's existing recap features.

5. New drag and drop interface

It looks like Twitter is testing some UI tweaks that would allow you to use drag and drop gestures in the app. The first is the ability to move around the tweet compose button. It's somewhat of a small change, but could be useful if you don't like it's current placement.

The second is more interesting: the ability to drag and drop individual tweets. You could use it to drag and drop tweets into a new tweet for instance, in order to quote a tweet, or drag it into a message to DM it to someone. Twitter already provides shortcuts to do both of these things in its app, but this would provide a new way to do so, That said, it looks a little clunky and could easily become confusing, though perhaps it would be useful on an iPad's larger display.

Again, it's not clear which of these features, if any, will eventually launch publicly. But at a time when Twitter is planning on testing more and more of its new features out in the open, it provides an interesting look into how the company experiments.

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