One of Twitter's greatest attractions is that it surfaces tweets in real time and sequentially, making it great for following breaking news. But users are bound to miss something when they step away from the service.
To address this issue, Twitter rolled out a new feature Wednesday that will recycle to news feeds some of the most relevant tweets that were originally posted "while you were away" and that users might not otherwise see. The feature, dubbed Recap, aims to offer a quick snapshot of what users may have missed but also to increase their engagement with the product -- something investors hope will translate into increased revenue.
"Our goal is to help you keep up -- or catch up -- with your world, no matter how much time you spend on Twitter," the microblogging service explained in a blog post. "With a few improvements to the home timeline we think we can do a better job of delivering on that promise without compromising the real time nature of Twitter."
Recap uses a combination of factors to determine which tweets are surfaced, including how frequently users engage with their Twitter feeds. Users who visit often will see tweets marked with the "while you were away" heading less frequently than occasional users.
Recap began rolling out today to users of Apple's iOS operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Versions for Google's Android mobile OS and for the Web are expected soon.
It's not the first time Twitter has fiddled with users' timelines to boost their engagement with the service. The social network announced a new feature in August that would-- a significant departure from its traditional practice of showing users only tweets from accounts they follow, as well as retweets and promoted tweets.
Increased user engagement will be key to boosting Twitter's user base, which is growing but not fast enough to sate investors. In the third quarter, the most recent period for which numbers are available, Twitterusers who logged in to the site at least once a day, a 23 percent rise from the same quarter a year earlier.
Since being warned that revenue growth would be smaller in the fourth quarter, investors have pushed the company's stock down nearly 23 percent. Twitter rose 26 cents on Wednesday to $37.83, an increase of 0.69 percent.