Google made some of the first social apps for Android, including Twitter and others

Here’s a bit of startup history that may not be widely known outside of tech companies: The first versions of popular Android apps, like Twitter, were built by Google itself. This discovery was made by new podcast with Twitter’s former senior director of product management, Sara Beykpour, now co-founder of AI news startup Particle.

In a podcast hosted by Lightspeed partner Michael Mignano, Beykpour recalls his role in Twitter history. She explains how she started working at Twitter in 2009, initially as a tools engineer, when the company only employed about 75 people. Later, Beykpour moved to Twitter’s mobile work around the time when other third-party apps were gaining popularity on other platforms, such as BlackBerry and iOS. One of them, Loren Brichter Tweetieit even bought Twitter to form the basis of its first official iOS app.

As for Twitter’s Android app, it came from Google, Beykpour said.

The Twitter for Android client was «a demo app that Google created and gave us,» she said in the podcast. «They did that with all the popular social apps at the time: Foursquare…Twitter…they all looked the same in those early days because they were all written by Google.»

Mignano interjected: “Wait, then come back; explain this. So Google wanted companies to adopt Android, so they make apps for you?»

«Yeah, right,» Beykpour replied.

Twitter then took the Android app made by Google and continued to develop it. Beykpour was the second Android engineer at the company, she said.

In fact, Google has detailed its work on the Android Twitter client in a 2010 blog postbut much of the press coverage on time did not attribute the app to Google’s work, making this a forgotten piece of Internet history. In Google’s post, the company explains how they implemented the first best practices for Android within the Twitter app. Beykpour told TechCrunch that the author of the post, Virgil Dobjanschi, is a principal software engineer.

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«If we had questions, we should have asked him,» she recalls.

Beykpour shared other stories about the early days of Twitter. For example, she worked on Twitter’s video app, Vine, (after returning to Twitter from working in Secret), and was under pressure to launch Vine on Android before Instagram launched its video product. She met that deadline by launching Vine about two weeks before the Instagram video, she said.

The latter had a «significant» impact on Vine’s numbers and, in Beykpour’s opinion, led to the demise of the popular app.

«That was the day the writing was on the wall,» she said, though it took years for Vine to finally shut down.

On Twitter, Beykpour led the shutdown of Vine — an app that’s still so popular that even Twitter/X’s new owner Elon Musk holds boring bringing it back. But Beykpour thinks Twitter made the right decision with Vine, noting that the app hasn’t grown and is expensive to use. She acknowledges that others may see it differently, perhaps arguing that Vine was under-resourced or lacked leadership support. But ultimately, the shutdown came down to Vine’s impact on Twitter’s bottom line.

Beykpour also shared an interesting anecdote about working on Periscope. She joined the startup as it was acquired by Twitter, and after leaving Tajna. She remembers having to officially rejoin Twitter under a fake name to keep the acquisition a secret for a while.

She also spoke on Twitter about the difficulty in getting resources to develop products and features for power users, such as journalists.

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«Twitter really struggled to define its user,» she said, because it «used a lot of traditional OKRs and metrics.» But the fact was that «only a fraction of people tweet,» and «of the fraction of people who tweet, a subset of those who are responsible for the content that everyone actually wants to see,» was something that Beykpour says was difficult to measure.

Now at particlesher experience building Twitter is an information strategy for an AI news app, which aims to connect people with the news they care about about what’s happening around them.

«Particle is a replay of how you get your daily news,» Beykpour says in the podcast. The app aims to provide a multi-perspective view of the news and at the same time provide access to high-quality journalism. The startup wants to find another way to monetize reporting besides ads, subscriptions or micropayments. However, how Particle will do this is still up for debate. The startup is currently talking to potential publishing partners about how to compensate them for their work.

#Google #social #apps #Android #including #Twitter

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