Just as Apple is preparing to enter the news curation space with its News app in iOS 9 and Facebook has launched native news content with Instant Articles, Twitter appears to be working on its own news product for its mobile app. Buzzfeed’s Mat Honan reports that Twitter is currently developing a news-focused feature for its app under the name Project Lightning (no, not Apple’s connector) that will make it possible to follow events in your timeline rather than only following Twitter users sharing about the event. A staff of human editors, not unlike Apple’s approach with News, will collect tweets with videos, photos, and relevant information to create these Lightning stories…
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Twitter’s instantaneous model for streaming information in bite size bits has already proven to be a reliable source for jumping into breaking news events as they unfold, and Project Lightning appears to be the social network’s first major step toward embracing that aspect of the product and making it more accessible to users.
Buzzfeed says these Lightning stories will be widely available, too, as you won’t be required to be logged into Twitter or an active user to view them. Lightning stories are said to be coming to Twitter’s website in addition to its mobile apps. The ability to embed Lightning stories with curated tweets covering a single news topic or event will make them highly shareable outside of Twitter and position Twitter itself as a news source of sorts. The report adds that these stories will be able to be updated even after they’re shared with newly added pieces of information.
The upcoming Project Lightning feature follows recent enhancements to Twitter’s mobile app and web experience including the ability to autoplay GIFs, Vines, and native videos, which were recently introduced as a better way to share video on Twitter. Twitter has also said it plans to remove the 140 character limit that restricts direct messages between users sometime next month. You can read the full report here.