23
Feb
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In case you hadn't heard, back in August of last year Twitter changed the rules for their API, limiting developers to 100,000 individual user tokens for outside apps (or 200% of then-totals, if the app already had more than 100,000 users). To say the change was controversial would be an understatement. Falcon Pro, a favorite among Android Twitter users, has hit the limit. New users cannot log into Twitter via Falcon Pro. That includes those who have already paid for the app and are reinstalling for a new device or ROM.

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Falcon Pro was, and technically still is, one of the most popular paid Twitter clients on the platform. According to the Falcon Pro Twitter account, only 40,000 users have actually paid for the app, with the remainder presumably made up by pirated users. Apps in excess of 100,000 user tokens or 200% of their original users require additional permissions from Twitter to exceed the limit - so far, Twitter has not deemed any third-party clients on any platform worthy, with the possible exception of first-party clients and acquisitions like TweetDeck.

The developer has started a petition to extend Falcon Pro's token limit, but its success would depend upon Twitter's generosity. Since they haven't changed the policy in the last six months, it's unlikely that even an impassioned cry from users will do much good. It's generally believed that Twitter's new token policy is specifically designed to steer users towards the web interface and Twitter's own apps, which some see as a betrayal of the client culture that helped the service thrive in the first place. While other, older apps like Plume seem to be surviving, it's only a matter of time before growing pools of Android and Twitter users stretch their limits as well. The API token issue has already affected popular new clients on other platforms, like Tweetro for Windows 8.

The separate Falcon widget uses a different set of tokens, and appears to be operational. If you previously used Falcon Pro and switched to another app, you can release your personal token and open it up for one more user by going into your Twitter settings and removing Falcon Pro from your Apps list.

Update: Commenters have noted that users who have stopped using Falcon Pro, or returned it within Google Play's 15-minute refund window, may be artificially inflating the number of active user tokens.

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Da_James

    Can't he theme+name the app differently, assign a different token ID, and allow in-app themes? Don't know what Twitter would think of that kind of turnaround, though...

    • http://twitter.com/Alankrut Alankrut Patel

      No because that is against the Twitter TOS. He can risk losing the whole app

      • http://twitter.com/navjotbatra Navjot

        What if he just made it open source and other people did this?

        • Justin Winker

          I think in that case, the app as a whole would be lost - someone would have to be responsible for the code, would they not?

        • http://www.facebook.com/rmkattan Rami Kattan

          Or he can add a feature to allow users create their own token and add it manually in the app, more complicated but should work (if this is not against Twitter TOS)

  • http://twitter.com/TheRealFich Fich

    Why do you presume the rest were all pirated? Is it not possible that some people tried it, decided it wasn't for them, and got the refund within 15 minutes, without revoking access?

    • Eric

      I'm surprised Carbon hasn't hit a limit with tablet users installing it, seeing it doesn't work and removing it (presumably without releasing the token).

  • Justin Winker

    Heads up - the other 60,000 may not be just pirated users. LIkely, it's users that didn't release their token from their twitter, but ended up returning the app within the return window, or it could be from the beta period from XDA.

    • Spittie

      The beta period used a different token.
      But they could indeed be user that returned the application, or users that are signing in with different accounts, or user which have different devices with different accounts.

    • Kcls

      This is true. You'd be amazed at how many people return apps on the Play Store. The amount of emails I get a day saying "Order cancelled by google" is crazy. I've talked to other devs to who report the same thing. I'd say about a third of all the people who buy, return in the 15 minute window. So odd.

      • Justin Winker

        I would say it surprises me, but I tend to use the window to check out apps. If they have the features I'm expecting (or if I enjoy the game/app, etc.), then I keep it. If not, it's returned.

        • http://twitter.com/RvLeshrac RvLeshrac

          Part of the issue is that the 15-minute window doesn't give anyone enough time to actually understand an app. If they see something they don't like in ten minutes, they're going to return it - why spend another five minutes trying to figure out how to change something irritating only to discover that a) You can't alter it or work around it and b) You're now stuck with the purchase forever?

          • primalxconvoy

            This, too is another excellent reason. There are enough bugs in Google made apps without the frustration of 3rd party apps. Make it well or don't bother, please Devs.

      • primalxconvoy

        I don't know about your app, but I return my apps for a number of reasons:

        1. There is no free or trial version (or the trial version lacks the features I wanted to try) and so I just wanted to try the app.

        2. The app is broken and I don't want to contact the dev.

        3. I'm not happy with the app but there is no contact email for the dev and/or the contact email auto reply defers me to another faq/contact page where I have to write out my problem again.

        4. I want to give a negative review at the marketplace but can't due to google's Apple-esque dictate that I "must" join their Facebook wannabe, Google plus, even though I'm already registered on my perfectly serviceable Google account.

        So, when my methods of communication have been hindered by Google and/or the devs, I vote with my pocket.

  • http://k3rnel.net Juan Rodriguez

    Why not sign up as a new developer, name it FalconPro2 and ask users to switch to FalconPro2 if FalconPro1 is unavailable? :P

    • https://twitter.com/#!/thedeusexmakina [J. B. cyruz]

      Because that is obviously not allowed and could kill the entire app.

      • http://twitter.com/TheRealFich Fich

        Seemed to work fine for Tweetro when it hit it's 100k limit and came back as Tweetro+

        • https://twitter.com/#!/thedeusexmakina [J. B. cyruz]

          I suppose the changes and improvements were substantial enough to qualify as 'different' enough? A copy wouldn't work according to their terms.

          • http://twitter.com/navjotbatra Navjot

            So he could add some cool new feature then release it as Falcon Pro 2?

          • http://www.yepinkizi.com/ yepi kizi

            yep !

          • Arsalan Afzal

            But I could imagine original buyers would be pissed that they just got deprecated

  • Daniel Smith

    How about assisting users in generating their own application API keys and use them. Many apps already do it. Twitter does not check them.

  • silver_arrow

    Just a heads up but it is by user so you can install it on as many devices as you want and log in with one account on all of them and that would be one token. Also multiple users would probably each count when it comes to tokens

  • schepii

    I would like to see a [bird]pro for app.net, as twitter has no future for me with their new policy.

    • Princeton

      Agreed. ADN is the way forward. Why the Falcon Pro dev decided to make a Twitter app is beyond me. Should have implemented Jelly Bean's security measures.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      I really can't get behind app.net either. It's not that I mind the idea of a paid service (in ways, I think that's better), but I think they are developing something that is too limited to be worth the price they want to charge. All they've really done is boost the character limit to 256 (at least that's reasonable compared to 140 from Twitter), and changed their base business model.

      I honestly find it hilarious that app.net uses Disqus for their comments section. Disqus is a better platform, it just doesn't have the same API capabilities or any tie-in with a hashtag system...yet...

    • http://twitter.com/RvLeshrac RvLeshrac

      app.net has no future with anyone. A paid social networking service is completely useless to most users as it relies on every person you know also agreeing to pay for the service.

  • http://twitter.com/arrioch Milos Mirkovic

    For every twitter app i try i revoke access after i uninstall it, and release the token. It's a shame, i love Falcon Pro, but every twitter client is doomed with same fate, even if everyone released the token they are not using, at one point, as app's popularity grows, there will be 100k active users, and what then?

    • Justin Winker

      Hopefully the petition will work. I doubt it, but hopefully it will.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        Twitter has been very resolute despite begging and even threats (there was brief talk about a lawsuit by one company). If they want to tear down their house, there's little we can do but let them.

        • http://twitter.com/RvLeshrac RvLeshrac

          Exactly how are they "Tearing down their house"? I don't see anyone leaving Twitter for the alternative. There is no alternative, of course, but I still don't see anyone leaving.

          • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

            First, there are alternatives. I'm not saying they are good, but they are there. App.Net (that seems to want to call themselves "alpha" with no explanation) has gained a lot of media attention and some degree of following, even if they won't admit to how many users they have. Tent.is also has a userbase of more than 1. Then there is always that silly little upstart Google+.

            Just because you aren't seeing people leaving doesn't mean there aren't quite a few. Several politicians have either abandoned their accounts or just use it to repost links to stuff on other social networks (much of the Obama administration has switched over to Google+ and just posts links on Twitter). There have also been a lot of celebrities either trickling down in usage or disappearing entirely. Ashton Kutcher simply handed his account over to his media company and hasn't been back. A majority of the most prolific and well recognized iOS and Mac developers have made an exodus to App.Net (many leaving their Twitter accounts open until their followers jump ship). One of the best examples is Manton Reece (https://twitter.com/manton), who wrote Tweet Library (iOS) and Watermark (Web), which are both Twitter apps!

            Remember that most people don't even know about this limitation yet. As new people want to try Twitter and won't be able to use the apps their friends are using, there will be a growing frustration that starts driving more people away from forever. This limit also means there's fairly little profit in building and supporting a 3rd party twitter client (as demonstrated by this article). If the main client is so undesirable (as so many people say), most new people aren't going to start using Twitter as the popular clients fill up, and very few people will want to build new clients, then yes...Twitter is tearing down their house... I didn't say it was happening today or that they can't turn it around, but their current trajectory has peaked and is going to point increasingly downward.

          • primalxconvoy

            Actually, I joined, hated the ui of the official Twitter app and mobile site, then left. I was thinking of using a third party client but after I read about Twitter's douche-buggery, I closed my account. I already deal with Facebook's crud, so why deal with another git?

          • http://twitter.com/RvLeshrac RvLeshrac

            People keep saying that the official app is "Unusable," but I've yet to see anyone cite specifics. It displays tweets. It displays mentions. It displays follows. It lets you write tweets, retweet, and DM... what, exactly, is wrong with it?

  • http://twitter.com/heinlef Florian Heinle

    1) Aren't tokens per twitter account and app, i.e. if I have 5 phones and 10 tablets, I only use 1 Falcon Pro token?

    2) iirc HootSuite, at least the website, has an exception from Twitter. It does, notably, show ads in its timeline

    • Justin Winker

      HootSuite was out before the API limits went into effect, so they had 200% of their original user base as of August 2012 in tokens (i.e. if they had 250,000 users in August 2012, they would have 500,000 total tokens with 250,000 used).

  • xjakeyy

    I was never aware of this limit, but that is just a joke. Everyone knows the official twitter app is terrible and has no tablet support.

    • http://twitter.com/RvLeshrac RvLeshrac

      Works fine on my tablet.

      • xjakeyy

        Yes, it works fine but the layout just isn't very good for a tablet.

  • bdubb

    It still let me do it I just hit sign in on the overlimit page then authorize app.

  • Freak4Dell

    Why the hell do people still use (or ever start using in the first place) this stupid service? I still don't understand Twitter, and with asinine restrictions like this, it's downright unfriendly to customers. Of course, people are dumb, and they'll just go and blame it on Falcon instead of Twitter, and this poor dev will end up with a bad reputation.

    • DaveTea

      Its the best way to follow sports, news, politics, etc. in real time. Twitter is pretty much what you make of it. Crap...or brilliant.

      • Freak4Dell

        I find TV or normal websites far better for all of those things. I mean, I suppose it's nice that it's all aggregated in one place, but the fact that you're limited to 140 or however many characters means I'm not getting more than a few words at a time, which is incredibly annoying. I'd rather just watch the thing on TV or read a full article about it on a real website.

        • iampoch

          Twitter is much faster. For example, I get up to the minute traffic and road conditions from MMDA at work, which is useful for me to plan ahead.

  • AllPurposeRadio

    Twitter is starting to get as bad as Facebook with these ridiculous limitations. Maybe if they instead put any effort into making an app as nice & feature rich as Falcon Pro they wouldn't have as many people looking for 3rd party alternatives.

    • squiddy20

      I'm genuinely curious what "limitations" you are referencing in regards to Facebook. To my knowledge, besides the bugginess and slowness of their app (before they released the native Android version), they have never had token or API call limits, or any restrictions of any kind. FriendCaster has generally been more full featured than the official app, without any restrictions or limits.

      • AllPurposeRadio

        Ok true Facebook doesn't have the same kind of restrictive API guidelines as Twitter but both seem woefully uninterested in any kind of positive user experience from a mobile perspective. Maybe my thinking is out of wack by but they both with their resources & clout should at the cutting edge of mobile app design. I've tried several 3rd party Facebook apps including Friendcaster none of which really seemed anything special with clunky ugly UIs and nothing interesting feature wise. I'm fine using the mobile web version of FB if the app is well it's normal irritating self.

        • AllPurposeRadio

          And if it's because they still haven't figured out how to monetize on mobile yet than charge. 99 or 1.99 for a more full featured app. Well for Twitter I would...FB can get bent :-)

    • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

      It wouldn't matter if they did. Twitter is already dead or dying. It's become nothing more than a place to index links to the places where the conversations are actually happening now. They're not actually happening on Twitter because, and I say this after trying to faithfully use Twitter nearly since its inception, it is completely retarded.

  • http://walid.iguer.name Walid

    Hi,

    Weird enough, I just reinstalled my nexus 7 (going back from CM to stock rom), and I was able to reinstall Falcon Pro, it said that they were out of token at first, but after logging in and providing my credentials I was able to use it (as I didn't have to authorize the app again), it's now fully operational.

    • http://twitter.com/Gora_Mallu Amith Viswanath

      You don't lose your credentials until you revoke access to Falcon Pro from twitter web settings.

  • JG

    Is it 100k total, or 100k active users at any specific time period? If I'm the 100,001st token, am I just SOL until someone lower than me deactivates their token, or do I just have to hope to be lucky and log in when no more than 99,999 others are tweeting?

    I'm thinking, the 60k might not be from pirated copies.... Judging by the fact the article claims people can't log in with new devices or after flashing roms, it sounds like I'm getting a new token per install, rather than just using the same token across the board.... Kind of like how iTunes lets you authorize 5 different computers, and if you don't de-authorize before you reformat your hard drive, it still counts as an authorized computer even through its on the same device, all you did was a "factory reset"...

    So I could theoretically be using multiple tokens while only having bought the app once -- buy it for the phone, re-download it & get a new token after installing CM onto my phone.... Download it onto my new tablet, maybe flash AOKP & reinstall it.... bam, there's 4 tokens, but only 1 purchase....

  • Matteo Luigi Riso

    Where are the EU and US Antitrust commissions? This is clearly an "abuse of dominant position" because it is perfectly clear that only the distribution of the official client (which has no limit) will benefit from stopping competitors by this nasty way.

    • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

      Anti-trust is to punish companies that abuse its power in an industry that it has monopoly or near monopoly. As a social network, Twitter can easily claim that it's far from being a monopoly.

      • Matteo Luigi Riso

        In its small market ("social platforms with text capabilities limited to 140 characters") that can be a monopoly. I don't know other platforms that are "social" and have text capabilities "limited to 140 chars". You may argue that SMS have 160 chars limit but that's not a social platform, it's a GSM service not owned by a company (large or small doesn't matter).

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000003999549 Mike Harris

          If you want to get that specific about what the product is, you could probably do so with every single product, ever.

          Good luck pursuing a lawsuit.

  • tB

    I have it & never use it... Still works, anyone wanna buy my token? is that even possible? 8-)

    • xjakeyy

      How about unassigning your token then?

  • http://twitter.com/loksterr Красимир С. Стефанов

    Is it possible to just make the Android app use several different twitter app registrations, and automatically switch between them when the limit is reached (I'm not familiar with twitter API or terms)?

    • http://shanked.me/ Shank

      Technically, yes. However Twitter policy prevents using multiple application keys or swapping them out between applications.

  • Arsalan Afzal

    They should just wipe all the tokens and make users log back in. It honestly isn't that much of a hassle and would get all the unused tokens free. Question is that are they allowed to tell twitter to clear all their tokens

    • http://twitter.com/RvLeshrac RvLeshrac

      You can't do this. It would be a ridiculous security hole.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/thedeusexmakina [J. B. cyruz]

    If the tokens are those of the buyers who then returned it, it's really Twitter's fault for having a flawed system like this. Maybe it's possible to introduce a system that automatically revokes tokens if not used for a certain time period.

  • Pyngwie

    I'm on CyanogenMod with my GNexus and I love using Falcon Pro. This means that in case I'll return on stock rom I won't be able to use Falcon???

    • http://twitter.com/bedrnk benjamin

      The way I understand it is you have one token per 'client' associated with your specific Twitter account. So no matter the ROM flashes you have the one token granted to Falcon Pro, Falcon Widgets, Plume etc etc

      So your Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 etc all share your one token (per client, like Falcon Pro) across all devices if you are using the same Twitter account. Per Twitter account is where the per Tokens are spread. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

      I bought the app 1) because it's only a dollar 2) someone mentioned they got in 3) show support /.encourage future development and will purchase that donate app as well. I installed it on both, signed in and got the message that it couldn't be activated or whatever it says. I tried 3 different times, across 30 minutes, and I finally got in on my tablet. I was immediately able to use that account on my Galaxy Nexus.

  • http://twitter.com/_rikisan riki

    best app ever :D

  • Mathew Knoell

    The token is associated with your twitter account, not your device. So if you have already allowed Falcon Pro to have access to your twitter account, you can still install it on any device you want and it will work.

  • Mathew Knoell

    This will not affect current users. I just installed it on my old HTC Incredible. I had never used Falcon on that phone before and it worked. It did give me the message that the application cannot authenticate more users. However, there is still a "Sign In" button on the upper right and it let me login.

    • Eric

      YES!! That's what I've been telling everyone. Even I got initially frustrated, with Twitter, but then realized I could still log in using the token I had.

  • Nicolás Rezzano

    I just flashed MIUI with full wipe, so goodbye Falcon. Anyways, the way i see it, twitter should either pick one of these options:

    -Make all the stupid limitations you want but add more features to official, and people will just stop making 3rd party clients... They should just add what people want... Like Falcon's dev did.

    -If they don't want to devote their precious time improving the official, take out all those limitations. Some people do.

  • BrianLipp

    "That includes those who have already paid for the app and are reinstalling for a new device or ROM."

    Are you sure about that? ive installed Falcon Pro on multiple devices and have wiped my GNex a few times and reinstalled it, and i just checked my twitter settings and i only have 1 Falcon Pro access token there, registered on Nov 30th, 2012, i think around the time it was released and i purchased it. The dev also said he wasnt taking the app off the Play Store so people could reinstall it if they wanted to.

    • http://profiles.google.com/s.rees06 Stefan Rees

      Came here to say this. The token is linked to your Twitter account, not your device.

  • Offender

    Classic.... the article explains how this twitter client will no longer work and then raps it up with a link to buy the app. Nice!

  • http://www.facebook.com/CraigHwk Craig Hawkins

    I wish Google+ would get their act together and provide a r/w API for Devs so we can finally ditch the nastiness that is Twitter.

  • ickkii

    Too much legal mumbojumbo, this is why when services get big people start hating them (see myspace). I live in the same house with a guy who affords rent by data mining twitter feeds to sell to the government. Once legality gets involved to the point where shit like this happens, it's fine time I'm ready for a new website, not a new app. Still waiting for a decent facebook replacement. Another reason people start to hate websites is when they push new interfaces on people *coughtimelinecoughuntilchoking*

  • primalxconvoy

    Why don't devs make slightly different versions of the same app to get additional tokens?

  • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

    What if the app didn't include a key? The developer could create new keys and have a valid one downloaded and installed when you set up the app?

    Or is Twitter super stingy about giving out keys too?

  • Allen ‘Gramps’ Sandifer

    In free trade you build a better product to beat the competition or at least that is the way it should be, instead of creating some token limit to limit the number of users an app can have.

    Google Play says that Falcon Pro has sold 40,000 copies that leaves 60,000 tokens unaccounted for. Maybe the tokens should expire if they are not used for a specific time.

    It's kind of hard to believe there would be 60,000 pirated copies out there.

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