Twitter continues its march towards being taken seriously as a social network with today's update to its mobile app that brings some interesting new profile additions. For starters, header images. With Facebook and Google+ beginning the trend, it seems a social network can't have just a profile picture anymore. Everyone who's anyone has a profile picture, and a hero image.
Curiously, the header images can only be added via the mobile app itself. The background photo that you chose for your Twitter profile a billion years ago and promptly forgot is not used. Also, just going to app settings won't get you to the dialog to add one. You have to go to your profile, tap the Settings gear and edit it from there. (Update: Scratch that. It looks like the header images are rolling out to the site as well, so you can see and add the banner images from the desktop.) Once you've done that, though, scroll down a bit to see your shiny new photo stream. Swipe left to scroll through all the photos a person has shared. This only works on pictures shared via select services like Twitter's own uploads or Instagram, though. Twitter seems to be cultivating a very select version of the abbreviated web.
While the changes haven't spread to the site, it's pretty clear Twitter really wants to upgrade both its reputation and user experience. Whether ending third-party clients and adding hero images is the way to do that is yet to be seen, but in today's social networking landscape, good visuals are a necessity. This update moves the micro-blogging platform into a world where new users can easily see its good side.
Among the less groundbreaking features are the ability to pinch-to-zoom on photos (finally!), improved search suggestions, and better protected account management. For those of you who want to limit how social your social networking experience is.