Twitter is capitalizing on the ability of mobile devices to detect and share geo-location in testing its latest “nearby tweets” feature, aimed at improving discovery and context.

Twitter Logo Twitter now testing nearby timeline for improved context and discovery

Twitter is testing a new feature on its mobile app, with a “Nearby” timeline. As the name suggests, the feature will show users tweets from within one’s vicinity. What’s interesting here is that the timeline includes tweets from both users that one follows and other users who are simply nearby.

The feature works only for users who have enabled location-sharing on their devices. For iPhone users, for example, location services for the Twitter app should be specifically enabled. According to the Wall Street Journal, the new feature being tested could serve two needs. First, it can help in discovery of updates and content shared within one’s geographic context. Secondly, it can help promote the use of location-based services, noting that some users do not have this feature enabled as a matter of privacy.

Twitter Nearby Twitter now testing nearby timeline for improved context and discovery

Twitter has actually included support for location in tweets as early as 2010, but on mobile devices, this feature has to be turned on manually by the user upon installing the app or thereafter. The Nearby timeline does not always appear on users’ timelines, however, although this is likely to be meant to augment the Discover timeline, which is easily accessible in the swipe-able interface that Twitter recently introduced in its latest app update.

With Nearby, the upper half of the screen is occupied by a map, with the user’s current location identified by a pulsing dot. The lower part features the tweets found within one’s vicinity. The origin of the tweets are also pinpointed on the map. Users can move around the map, and the “nearby” content likewise adopts to the places covered by the map, with tweets unfolding in real-time.

Location helps put context into tweets, especially when there are significant events converging around one location, such as emergencies, conferences and the like.

Source: Wall Street Journal