A broken Falcon Pro is just the start of the Twitter pain

If you paid for a Twitter client after August 2012, it's time to accept that you might eventually lose your $2

Talk Mobile 2013

It's time to start facing the long, hard facts, folks. The writing has been on the wall for some 10 months now -- since Twitter announced the API v1.1 changes that would significantly change things for developers of third-party clients, essentially putting a hard cap of 100,000 new user tokens. (Twitter said "you'll need our permission if your application will require more than 100,000 individual user tokens," but it doesn't sound like it's granted that to any of the apps we use.)

Since that announcement last fall, we saw Tweet Lanes (and others) all but shut down. (Update: Yes, we understand Tweet Lanes went open-source.) Falcon Pro debuted in November with that 100,000-token limit held over its head, and it ran into that wall in February 2013. A new version was released a few days later, requiring users to buy it sign in again -- and pay about a dollar more if buying for the first time -- and starting that vicious cycle once more.

This week, Twitter shut it down. Regular users are pissed. The folks in the newly formed Falcon Pro beta community are pissed. It's not fair to users. But neither should it be unexpected.

Think of Twitter like a franchise of custom swimming pools. Oh, anyone can put one in (though it has tightened that up a bit). But Twitter owns the lining. We might all be contributing water to fill it, but Twitter still owns that, too. And API v1.1 puts strict controls on how many people are allowed in the pool for as long as you have it. Theoretically, once you hit 100,001 paying customers, that's it. No more. 

Is there wiggle room? Loopholes? Maybe. But this week we saw what happened when you build yourself a second pool, right next door to your first one, and invite everyone to come on in -- the water's fine. Falcon Pro hit the 100,000 limit again and kicked everyone out of the pool -- requiring them to log back in if they want to go swimming. As I wrote on Google+ at the time, that might be a fine workaround but it's not good user experience -- and, as we found out just two days later, it's definitely not sustainable.

I'm not well-versed enough in the API rules to say Falcon Pro violated the letter of the law, but certainly it was pushing the spirit of it a bit. For those of us who paid for Falcon Pro -- and I'm one of them -- that sucks. It's not fair to the users. Did Falcon Pro handle things the right way? I don't know. I'm not sure there is a good answer. It's certainly not easy on the developers. In fact, I've questioned whether any developer in their right mind should be involved with Twitter at this point -- at some point I figure we'll all be forced to use the "official" Twitter app. The good news is it's slowly getting better -- but I'd rather have the choice to use a different app.

We've talked a bit this week in Talk Mobile 2013 about what happens when our favorite apps die, for whatever reason. In the case of Twitter, the service isn't going anywhere. Millions use it, and Twitter's slowly, methodically inserting itself ever deeper in our daily lives. But if you shell out $2 for the hot new Twitter app, you're essentially gambling with your money. Falcon Pro won't be the last app to go toe to toe with Twitter and lose. 

Phil Nickinson
  • Dev should have just left the app alone once it reached 100,000 the first time. First 100K come, first served.
  • Dev should have stopped eating, paying bills etc after people pirated his app and taken all the tokens.
    Seriously, people should understand that this is a job, a full time job for some people
  • Wiping tokens doesnt change the number of app sales unless he plans to completely shut down the app and sell a new one. In which case that's just starting a new app, not wiping tokens... Posted via Android Central App
  • But it's madness to make building a Twitter client your full-time job at a time when Twitter have spelled out in no uncertain terms that they are limiting it in this way. The rules of the game suck, but they are there and are clear. I keep reading things like "if I have to use the official client then I'm going to quit using Twitter", but let's face it, Twitter won't care. Falcon Pro ~100,000 users, official client >100,000,000 users. They can afford to wave you goodbye. It sucks, yes it really does, but until a few more of those millions of users cause Twitter to pause, c'est la vie. The 3rd party client thing is now history.
  • Api 1.1 came out on September, I think falcon pro was in use before that time. So the developer had no clue about it when he build the client.
  • The dev was well aware of the 100k limit before he started to do this work. He had to have a backup plan...... If this was his fulltime job, then he seriously needed to have a backup plan as oneday he was going to hit the 100k user token limit, either via legal or illegal usage of his application!
  • Seriously. I hate it when people act as if they know everything and they're freaking perfect. You're not. Do you have a backup plan if something surprising happened in your life? If you lose your house? If you lose your job? If you die? Or your family dies? We all don't know the future so top acting so God-like and telling us a developer deserves to be betrayed by the platform he dedicated his life to because they're threatened with the fruits of his labour. This is just stupid.
  • Users didn't have to rebuy Falcon Pro. They just had to relog in Twitter with the updated app. The limit was exceeded due to people who are pirating the app that are using a token without actually paying for the app.
  • yep, that's what i was going to post. there was never a time were users had to rebuy the app.
  • But I've bought the app and now I'm locked out fuck that a token reset is a fucked up thing to be able to do it screws the paying users I shouldn't be required to do anything to keep access once I paid.
  • I guess plume is up next Posted via Android Central App on my HTC One
  • Plume for the moment seems immune (or resistant) to these twitter limits because it had well over 100k users before the limits were in place. It has had to switch over from API v1 though, and impose the associated limitations with API v1.1. In the end it may be "shut down" too, but well see if its with or after these smaller clients. Posted via Android Central App
  • Carbon for android is great twitter app and still works fine
  • "Great" if you don't care about list and multiple accounts. Might as well use the official twitter app.
  • Agreed. It's a beautiful app, and it has all the features I need (multiple account support isn't one of them). As long as Carbon works, I can still tolerate Twitter. If Twitter "puts a fork in" that one, too, however, I might just delete my account in protest. This alone won't have an impact, but telling my friends when they ask why I did that will at least help some people see how Twitter is burning very important bridges. Posted via Android Central App
  • Man, I hope not. Plume is my favorite Twitter app in the Play Store. I love all it's features and love the customization. I hope I don't have to go to another app any time soon :(
  • The first 100K to arrive was definitely the way to go, but now we're screwed because no one can use FP. It was such a great app too! Oh well yet another app that heads to the graveyard R.I.P Falcon Pro. Posted via Android Central App
  • I dunno wtf people are talking about, I can still tweet from Falcon Pro just fine.
    Maybe you're holding it wrong?
  • yes, the app still works if you logged in before Twitter shut the it down. But if you don't it's bad luck.
  • Yeah, was able to log back in on my N7 in time, but not my One XL. I really hope the Dev is somehow able to continue his work. Posted via Android Central App
  • You should probably have better stated what you did. People who logged in, myself being one of them, before Twitter potentially shut things down CAN still use Falcon Pro. And it still is a great app, it hasn't died or anything. Just people who weren't able to log in before Twitter may or may not have done what it did kind of got screwed. Definitely not dead and I expect there will still be updates to the app itself. If there aren't, that's okay. It's still leaps and bounds better than the official Twitter app and it's honestly the only reason I use my Twitter account at all. (Had an account but I honestly never used it until I got Falcon Pro.)
  • Great article. I had been debating for some time actually giving Falcon Pro a try since I had seen a lot of positive press over the past few months. I've been using Seesmic for quite awhile. Glad I didn't pony up, I probably would have been frustrated at Twitter over this whole silly 100k API rule...
  • The natural progression is for Twitter to lock it down (they're gradually doing that) then make you actually pay something to use it. The biggest problem they've always had is how to monetize it enough to balance the cost. I don't get sponsored ads/hashtags/whatevers with my use so they're not making a dime off me. And the next big thing will be along any time...
  • Therein lies the problem, the ads. If Twitter would just make the API inject the ads into third party clients, everyone would be happy. The ads don't bother me one bit, and I'm guess they really don't bother most people. Just accept that others are doing a better job with the app side of things and instead focus on the service.
  • There is a line from star wars is appropriate here. To paraphrase, the more twitter tightens it's grip, the more users they will fall away. I like Twitter, I don't NEED Twitter. Keep ticking off your user base like this and watch them leave. Posted via Android Central App
  • First thing I thought of.
  • Yes, like 0.1% of them. The rest are happily using the official client.
  • Which is complete garbage in comparison to the 3rd party apps. Why they bought Tweetdeck only to kill it off of Android is beyond me.
  • Because Twitter doesn't know a single thing about development. They are clueless and just want to be like Apple, taking away freedom of choice so everyone will use the shitty app they provide of which multi-account support will never be seen... Nor lists... Basically anything that users with brains actually care about.
  • bingo. there is nothing they provide i cant get elsewhere really. Hell, eveyone should quit twitter and use google + IMO :)
  • Mine is working, has it already been shut down?
  • It will still work for accounts that were already signed in and have tokens but it won't work for any new accounts you may want to add or change.
  • Tweet Lanes community lead here: We love our app and will fight to make sure our app doesn't go away. Being open source allows multiple people to download the source and compile it on their own (with their own Twitter API key). While this is far from ideal we have seen some users do just that to make sure they can always use Tweet Lanes. We could have more tricks up our sleeves that are only available to us because we are open source, but for now we have not hit the cap and are focusing on adding more features and making it buttery smooth. Go check everything out for yourself! https://github.com/chrislacy/TweetLanes Sincerely,
    The "dead" Twitter app
  • Wow, I didn't know that. It's smart.
  • That's no small feat -- and didn't meant to imply otherwise. (Updated the editorial to remind folks that, no, TL isn't actually dead.) You're all doing yeoman's work and should be congratulated for it. And I'll be among the first in line to do so. But as you yourself say, it's far from ideal and, again, not really a sustainable practice.
  • wow... that's... BRILLIANT!
  • Shut Down Vs Gone Open Source. There's a difference! So much for encouragement guys!
  • I think once he finally added multiple account support, it was pretty much the kiss of death since each extra account added is another token used.
  • I am using Tweet Lanes. So far so good, I hope it stays alive. I like it much better than the Twitter app. My worry is that Phil may be right. The long term goal of Twitter is to get rid of all third party apps.
  • I just commented below about how I'm leaving Twitter for Feedly and RSS but I saw your comment. I installed Tweet Lanes and I'm very impressed. I might have to stay a while.
  • Twitter has every right to decide how you can access the service they provide you at no cost. We have every right to decide if there is value in the situation for us under those constraints. I've found that other services meet my needs better, and rather than eventually be forced to use the approved application, I  just don't use Twitter at all. 
  • Jerry exactly what I think so to. Twitter needs us, we don't need them. Posted via Android Central App
  • Good conclusion.
  • They don't need us. Not at all. They need the hundreds of millions who are using the official client and are seeing the sponsored tweets.
  • G+ FTW.....!
    Goggle doesn't play that crap. They just don't let Devs have access to the API. Which is cool by me. If it's your don't let others play with it if you're going to take it back. From the DARK AC App!
  • I have no problem with re-signing into Falcon Pro, just glad I was able to do so before the new token limit was again met. It is a great app. I blame Twitter for these problems, not the developer. Hope he can find another way to verfy users are not pirating and can come back blazing... at least 'til he has 100k legit users. Posted via Android Central App
  • What doesn't make sense to me is apps like Plume and tweetcaster have millions of downloads, yet they haven't had the problems FP has. Something isn't adding up.
  • Those apps were released before the API changes. I believe they were granted double the tokens used at the time of the API change. Posted via Android Central App
  • Grandfather Clause: (Well, I tried to paste the requisite clause, but AC's AutoSpamBot marked it as spam, despite no links or references to money). Bottom line, if your app was built before the Token Limit was created, you were grandfathered in and your limit was twice your current number of users. https://dev.twitter.com/blog/changes-coming-to-twitter-api
  • Okay that makes sense, thanks for the info!
  • Do we know what apps have been grandfathered in? I would think, Plume, Hoot Suite, TweetCaster at least. Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S3 via Android Central App
  • I know Plume was Grandfathered. I think their token count was somewhere around 2.4 million when the API change was enabled, so until they get close to 4.8 million users, they are safe. Since I don't understand all the ins and outs of tokens, it makes me wonder, if they ever hit the token reset, if it would free up well in excess of 100k tokens?
  • How come Twitbird wasn't grandfathered in? That app stopped working the day Twitter API version 1.0 was turned off. It seems the developer didn't bother to update the app at all, but they keep selling it on the iTMS store. I seem to be one of their few longtime users in the English Twitterverse, apparently their app was big in Asia... I bought their Twitter client so long ago I don't remember when, the developer Nibirutech seems to have just decided to go silent rather than tell users why the app has stopped working and will never work again. My link was marked as spam... WTF?
  • I had been migrating all of my news from RSS to Twitter. Yesterday I bought Falcon Pro but couldn't log in. Then this morning Feedly announced they had made the reader web based. Back to RSS I go.
  • Well this sucks, by far my favorite twitter client too. Posted via Android Central App
  • I will drop twitter well before I am forced to use there app.. Twitter has almost passed its 15mins of fame anyways.. But why cant the devs just release a second identical app called falcon pro2 with new api keys.. and there's another 100,000 users then when thats full release a 3rd version falcon pro3 with new api keys etc.. etc..
  • Am sure Joacquim will do that if he does not get Twitter to give him extra tokens. But the bad press twitter is getting over this, its just a matter of time before he gets more tokens
    But on a side note, what happens if falcon pro2 hits 100k users? Falcon pro3? and so on and so on....so the dev, on top of having multiple Twitter dev accounts, has to track and update 4-5 apps at the same time that do practically the same thing???? Lots of work
  • Dammit! I was in bed when I read this and now I have to wake up to type this long rant on my desktop.
    First, what attracted early adopters to twitter was its open nature. It actually encouraged 3rd parties to develop apps for the social network. Comparing that with facebook then, it was a drastic change. I have several linux distro-heads who kept telling me how good twitter is because its soo open blah blah blah. Having been weaned on facebook, I never actually got why people loved being limited to 140chars. Prior to Falcon Pro, I never used twitter actively. It was until I bought the app that I started tweeting more, partly because I couldn't let my 0.99$ go to waste :D and because I liked the UI, which brings me to my second point
    The official twitter app has come a long way, I will give it that. But in the beginning, the app was pure hogwash. Using it was a nightmare for me, and also part of the reason I never used twitter at all. In my opinion, 3rd party apps have raised the bar for the official app. Look at the facebook app and how lacking in functionality it is(I still cant copy anything inside the app).Twitter has had to raise their game to compete with the 3rd party apps which is a good thing, else we would still be using the previous terrible app.
    Thirdly, for the people who keep going that the dev knew all along, people shouldnt have wasted their money on a twitter client, I say this shut up!! Joaquim is one talented bad ass mofo. And that he chose to make an app that surpasses both the official app in terms of usability and looks (in my opinion) is respectable.
    Finally, twitter is trying to kill the same third party apps that put it where it is. It is a shame
    End of rant and back to bed
  • Twitter is going more and more commercial, i.e. advertising. And it doesn't gain anything by letting 3rd party apps access it, no ad revenue for them. At the beginning, when Twitter was much less popular that now, it was allowing full access to all 3rd party apps, that helped to spread the service. Now that it's so popular they decided it's time to cash in on the investment, like any company made for profit would. I personally don't care much anymore, Twitter used to be my No. 1 social network but it's been dropping steadily, now I'm mostly a Google+ user. At least Google was straightforward from the start and I knew where I was getting into to. Bottom line: Twitter is being commercialized rapidly, if you don't like it steer away.
  • Carbon is amazing, I have both Falcon and Carbon on my phone. I preferred falcon but will use Carbon from now on. That is until Twitter kills them too....
  • Carbon is great at loading and is very smooth, but I think Falcon Pro is much more intuitive and user friendly. Plus the Developer of Carbon seems to be a perfectionist and updates have been few and far between with Carbon compared to Falcon Pro. The last update was back in February.
  • To be honest, this article is a very disappointing read.
    1. It sounds rushed without any real insight (I don't know / this is not a easy question etc.)
    2. The facts are wrong
    - tweetlanes is open sourced, not dead.
    - The new falcon pro did not require the user to bye it again, previous owners only had to get the upgraded version and relogin.
    - Falcon pro being "shut down" is at best a vague and confusing statement. As someone said above, I've managed to "sneak in" the limit of the third version and now I am currently tweeting from it. "Shut down" misleads the reader to think that the app is completely not working or broken. I know your upset AC, but I do expect you to write better articles than this.
  • Agreed. This needs serious copy editing. Instead of reporting facts it just comes across as sensationalist and written with very little thought. Pretty disappointing. This should be more damning to Twitter who are trying to force users to use an app that is a pretty terrible experience. It's good that there are developers trying to provide an alternative and hopefully better experience. Falcon Pro does this in my opinion. The developer appears to me to be trying his best. Is it the best user experience to circumvent the token limit? No, but I would love to know what his alternative is which this article doesn't really address.
  • I didn't say Tweet Lanes was dead. I said all but dead. I commend the open-source nature and anyone and everyone working on it. But as the dev said in a previous commend, it's not ideal. And in the long run I believe it'll be detrimental. And the point here is that things are going to get worse before they get better. Glad you were able to "sneak in." But many were not, and that's not a good user experience, is it?
  • It's not it's utter bullshit!
  • Didn't the author know there was a 100k limit? Wasn't this the obvious outcome of not disabling your app before the tokens ran out, made worse by adding multi user. This will happen to all of our clients, when they become popular enough.
  • Now I'll just use Twitter even less than before.
  • This is SAD , i hate this... but i suggest he go develop facebook app. and many twitter apps.
  • The Developer needs to find away to verify legit copies of the app. Piracy is the biggest cause of reaching the token limit. It's $2.00 you cheap mofos. Support the devs! Posted via Android Central App
  • Actually got it when it was 0.25$ :-) B-) Posted via Android Central App
  • This is what happens when programs are not completely in our control, I hate scuttleware.
  • Great video Phil! Another classic line from that flick: "Man it's a damn shame when people be throwing away a perfectly good white boy like that..."
  • The best movie ever. Man was in love, loses love. Falls in love with another girl, tries to kill himself by doing an insane stunt. Do you have any idea how much this mountain is worth... Classic. Posted via Android Central App
  • Christ. It's Twitter, not calculus. Just go the website, read the tweet, then go outside and get some fresh air. It's June, there are girls out there.
  • I could be alone here but, fuck Twitter. I have never liked Twitter and I probably never will. I don't use it, don't see the point in it. Stick with Facebook and Google+.
  • Though I prefer most of the 3rd party apps to the official one, I won't be terribly disappointed when twitter decides to shut them down. Even the ones I've paid for. Its only a few bucks people!
  • Yet another article about Falcon Pro's issues with the insanely STUPID Twitter company where no mention is made, unless I just missed it, of contacting Twitter for comment on the article. If all these online tech pages would start hounding Twitter for comment then maybe things would change. Falcon Pro has already made an attempt at getting more tokens and he was rejected due to what Twitter said was lack of added functionality or something like that. Nevermind the fact that FP blows the Twitter stock app out of the water in terms of basic functionality. All Twitter is focused on is making users pull up the stock app and view their injected ads. Will +Google please make a Twitter competitor please? Please?
  • i just recently downloaded the official twitter app to see if its gotten any better and it suck the only good thing the the vine integration but that not enough to make me want to use it. im sticking with falcon.
  • This is quite possibly the worst article ever written on AC. SO many factual errors all over the article. It's sad that such a poorly researched article is going to sway people opinions about what actually happened. If you bought the app and were in before, all you have to do is download the apk file that Falcon Pro posted on twitter and you can log in. Nobody had to "rebuy" the app, that's is absurd. He also did not sell his app more than a 100K times, piracy and multiple accounts is why the limit was hit. Please revise this article AC. Dan
  • Yep. I've updated that.
  • I'm still using TweetCaster Pro. I don't remember, but I think I got it before August 2012. What Twitter is doing to third party apps should be illegal. I don't care if Twitter is a private entity; the public uses it, so it should be forced to allow third party clients.
  • The public uses Google also but I don't see any 3rd party apps taking over Google services. If a company wants you to use it's app they have the right to limit or block 3rd party apps as they wish. I too have Falcon Pro and thankfully mine is still working but if and when Twitter decides to end it's relationship with it, I guess I'll have to switch over to the official app. No biggie.
  • I don't use twitter much, but I had to jump in and say thank you for the video! One of my all time favorites and I hadn't thought about it in a while. You, sir, are awesome!
  • Two Dollars!!
  • so... https://identi.ca ?
  • People are making unnecessary drama over this. How long has been since Twitter announced the new API with user restrictions? To those bashing Twitter for restricting third-party apps, I hope you are enjoying your favorite third-party Google+ client, since as you know Google loves openness so much. Twitter has the right to control their own service and again, this didn't happen overnight. Users have had almost a year to prepare for this by either switching to Twitter's own app or moving away to a different social platform. Developers knew this was coming too so releasing new Twitter clients and charging for them was a bit irresponsible. To those of us who bought Falcon Pro, $2 are not going to make us richer or poorer so let's just move on. Time to switch to Twitter's own app or switch away from Twitter.
  • Twitter needs to die. Why do they care what app you're using to access THEIR service? As long as you're using Twitter it's all good for twitter whether that's from the official app or a 3rd party app. I hope this causes a backlash and Twitter loses users.
  • Ads.
  • What if all those 100.000 users stop using twitter for one month just to show Twitter how angry they are? I think that Twitter would reconsider ;)
  • I bought it last month :c #fail
  • I don't get Twitters issue anyway. Twitter doesn't sell its app so its not like they are losing money. Who gives a crap how people are accessing their service. So long as it isn't negatively impacting them. I like falcon pro so much better than twitters junk app.
  • Ads.
  • i LOL'd at the Better Off Dead paperboy :)
  • This is the danger of building a business model on top of someone else's business.
  • The people over at twitter just need to be innovative. I still won't use the app because basically it sucks. It lacks in features and visually needs to torn down and reworked from the ground up!
  • Yep.... maybe they wouldn't have to FORCE people to use their app if their app was worth using!
    For most of us who write programs (for any platform, not just Android...) if you want people to use your program, you have to make it worth using and better than the next one...
    But Twitter, instead, is using their API to force out apps that are better than theirs... Removing any competition and making themselves able to sit on their *&$# and not make a program that would attract users on its own merit.
  • Solution: don't use Twitter.
  • I do not see how twitter has the right to shutdown EXISTING users of a paid app. Effectively stealing the $ that has been spent.
    Ok, they can be childish and say that once an app reaches an arbitrary number no more than be sold/activated, but those that have the app WELL before the 'magic number' should NOT be able to be shutdown because twitter is having a tantrum.....
  • If this trend continues and they shut out other users/apps that are already existing, maybe someone who is a lawyer needs to comb thru their API terms of service (that are in effect when said programs are purchased/activated, NOT a new update AFTER the user has purchased an app) and see if there is cause for a class-action suit for twitter blocking apps that have been paid for in good faith and then shut down later to clearly force users onto their own app (ala Microsoft IE a few years back)...
  • A lot of people are citing piracy as the cause of the tokens being used up, but there's also the people who try a twitter app, decide they don't want it, and move on to another but don't release the token from their account.