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Twitter conference for mobile-app developers returns to San Francisco

The microblogging site aims to compete against Facebook, Apple and Google for developer mind share.


Wanted: A few good mobile-app developers to help attract new users to a popular yet struggling social network.

Though you won't find that ad anywhere, it could describe the focus of Twitter's second annual Flight conference, which the company on Wednesday said will be held on October 21 in San Francisco.

Despite having 300 million monthly users, Twitter's user base pales in comparison with that of rival Facebook, which draws 1.4 billion users every month. To expand -- and in the process attract more advertisers -- the company needs to make the site more inviting for new users. To do that, Twitter is working to curb abusive or threatening messaging and cracking down on so-called revenge porn, where people post nude or sexually explicit images without subjects' permission. The microblogging site is also overhauling its site to highlight photos and videos of trending events.

But Twitter needs to do more. The company is hoping to convince developers to write apps that will help it lure new users and encourage existing users to stick around longer. That puts Twitter Flight in direct competition with Facebook's F8, Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference and Google I/O, which also draw developers to San Francisco.

Twitter promises this year's Flight attendees will have more face time with its engineering team and dive into more technical sessions. More than 1,000 people attended the inaugural event, last year. While Twitter still hasn't revealed a detailed agenda, but the company said it will provide an update on Fabric, a suite of mobile-development tools introduced last year. It will also share the latest on Gnip, which delivers and analyzes data about social-media interactions. Twitter, which acquired Gnip last year for $134 million, sells that data to advertisers and other companies in more than 40 countries.

The company also announced on Wednesday a new analytics tool, Answers Events, that helps developers track, in real time, user behavior tied to their apps.

Twitter continues its search for a new CEO to replace Dick Costolo, who exited July 1. The company next week will report results for the second quarter, the last period under Costolo's leadership.