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Twitter rolls out real-time activity, username streams

New Twitter features make user discovery more simple, social, and visual.

Laura Locke
Laura Locke is a senior writer for CNET, covering social media, emerging trends, and start-ups. Prior to joining CNET, she contributed extensively to Time and Time.com for much of the past decade.
Laura Locke
Twitter's new real-time activity stream. Twitter

When Twitter tweaks itself, most users don't see much.

That's because when the social-networking and microblogging service tests or rolls out new features, it often does so incrementally and with a limited number of users.

That seems to be the case with Twitter's new activity and username streams that the company announced back on August 10 and that TechCrunch started to see cropping up over the past day or so.

So while Sean Parker, the digital impresario behind Facebook, Spotify, Plaxo, and Causes, was one of the lucky Twitterati (@sparker) to see the latest changes today, user Dan Rinzel (@dan2bit), was not, although he did see the activity streams for a few minutes this morning. "Bad performance experiment?" he tweeted.

Both new features, according to Twitter, are designed to boost content discovery on the site. Clicking on the new @Username tab (your username), lets you to see which of your tweets have been favorited, retweeted, or aimed at you and your followers. The new username feature will replace the @Mentions tab and the Retweet tabs.

Clicking on the new activity tab, meanwhile, reveals the latest favorites, retweets, and follows from the folks you follow at Twitter.

Twitter's new changes resemble Facebook's newsfeed where users can see a near real-time flow of updates, posts, and the like from their friends and followers. And by having the latest real-time streams revealed all in one place, in a more visual presentation, it makes the social sharing and discovery process more fluid too.