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Twitter’s Top Secret Project Revealed, More New Features Announced, and Hashflag Galore

June was a busy month for Twitter. Even though Facebook and Instagram have more monthly users, Twitter keeps developing new features and attempting to gain a bigger share of the market.

Here is a recap of Twitter’s new features announced throughout the month of June:

Removing the 140 character limit in Direct Messages

Regular tweets will remain under the 140 characters constraint, but starting in July, Twitter will no longer require Direct Messages to be in 140 characters and under. It has been said that this update is targeted to developers, but regular users can find this helpful as well.

No more extra effort: Seamless video experience with Autoplay

Twitter thought that the several taps it took to play a video could make you miss something, like a few seconds of the NBA final or breaking news, so now native videos, Vines and GIFs begin to play back automatically. This means you can keep up with the action without missing a Tweet and get a better sense of what’s been shared instantly.

Project Lightning: Twitter’s (not so) top secret project

This new major feature will let users follow events in real-time. It doesn’t matter if its current events, breaking news, awards shows or sports, if users are talking about it, it will become an event. All it will take for users to be able to experience the event is a press of a button, and it will take them to an events screen.

The events are built around photos and videos, with the goal being to immerse the user in the experience–all they need to know about the event will be in one place. There will also be an option to “follow” the event until it is finished.

In other words, “Project Lightning” will give the users a curated collection of tweets to experience events in a whole different way.

BuzzFeed-created artist rendering showing how a final version of Project Lightning might look.

BuzzFeed-created artist rendering showing how a final version of Project Lightning might look.

Product and Places page: Discover, review and buy

According to Twitter’s blog, they are testing ways to organize tweets about products and places, in an attempt to create pages where images and video about the products will appear, alongside information such as a description, price, and an option to buy, book, or visit the website for more information.

In addition to the pages, Twitter is working on collections of products and places, where users will be able to browse collections from influencers. So far, launch partners Nike, Target and Demi Lovato have shared collections with their followers.

Example Tweet and expanded product page about “The Martian”.

Example Tweet and expanded product page about “The Martian”.

Unfortunately for those who can’t wait, it will take a few months before users can start seeing some of these new features on their Twitter accounts. But not to worry—sometimes the biggest pleasures in life are not the new and shiny tools, but the humble and simple features, such as Twitter’s hashflags.

If you are really active on Twitter, you might have noticed that hashflags are appearing more often, for all types of events. What started as hashtag flags or flag emojis for fans to support their countries in the 2010 World Cup, now have become custom emojis for users to support all type of events, not only sports.

So far, after reintroducing the hashflags for the 2014 World Cup, Twitter has created hashflags for the UK General Election (#GE2015), the Eurovision Song Contest (#Eurovision2015), the Champions League final (#UCLFinal), the NBA finals (#NBAFinals), Women’s World Cup (#FIFAWCC), Copa América (#Chile2015), Cannes Lions (#CannesLions), Ramadan (#Ramadan2015), Wimbeldon (#Wimbeldon) and Pride 2015 (#LoveWins) after receiving positive feedback from users, who keep asking for more.

Let’s hope these new features improve Twitter’s user numbers—and that the hashflags keep on coming!

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Giovanna Torres