Twitter appears to be testing with some users a new feature: an internal browser. It is an unannounced feature that is available to select users of the beta version of Twitter’s Android application. Finally. Third party Twitter apps have had this feature for like forever.
I had no idea this was happening until I clicked on a random link on my timeline and instead of being redirected to Chrome, the page loaded within the app. It’s webview so it is pretty much barebones. You’ll mostly want to read your webpages from a decent browser if you need more beyond a simple share menu. There’s an option to load the page using a browser of your choice. I was pretty upset that there isn’t an option to turn off the internal browser entirely and instead have any link I click on open up in Chrome. We hope there will be such an option in a future update to the app. You don’t need an update to get it because I did not get any update. It was pushed directly so this is likely a server side change.
Facebook has taken this route before. For the record, Facebook allows you to disable its internal browser and continue using your mobile browser of choice. The social networking giant added an internal browser to its mobile applications last year. Twitter seems to be keen on taking that route as well. The result of doing such is usually a lock-in. You get users to spend more time using your application instead of a lot of back and forth during which they may not be back soon and thus not see your next ad hence no revenue.
Twitter has been keen to make its official applications the go-to apps for a unified user experience and more so for commercial reasons. This is exemplified in its move to restrict tokens to third party applications rendering most of the popular ones on platforms like Android useless. Recently, Twitter added direct video recording to Twitter so that you don’t have to fire up the Vine app or go to YouTube to share whatever is happening right where you are. They’re even exploring ways in which you’ll be able to buy just about everything you need right from your timeline!