Feature Friday: Twitter Highlights

I found out about this feature here at AVC a few weeks ago so it is fitting that I’m telling you all how much I like it. I believe it is only available on Android right now. I could be wrong about that, but I think that is the case.

This morning I had this notification on my phone:


When I clicked on that notification, I got this:


As I swiped through these cards, I got these in sequence:







These highlights are personalized for me based on who I’m following and likely a bunch of other things. So not all of them will matter to you. But I can tell you that this is a damn good personalized set of highlights for me.

If you want this on your Android, go to your mobile notification settings:


And select the Highlights checkbox:


When you follow almost 1,000 people on Twitter, you need something like this to make sure you don’t miss the good stuff. I really like it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Thanks.I need some tech tip to excite me and play with this weekend.This may do it.

    1. LE

      Play with benefits? Have you gotten an Apple Watch? It’s a winner. If Fred does another post on it I will give my thoughts as to why. I’ve had it about 2 or 3 weeks now. You should get one. It’s an acquired taste but definitely grows on you.

      1. Jess Bachman

        Looking to get the pebble time myself πŸ˜‰

  2. William Mougayar

    I like it, and I use it. It draws me back to what I might have missed. Also, the email “Popular in your network” from Twitter does a good job at plucking out additional important tweets.Now, if Twitter added “Keyword alerts” and presented them in the same way via pop-up notifications or email, then we’re talking another big engagement draw. Twitter is not just about following People, but also about following topics. Keyword alerts a la GoogleNews Alerts would let it do that.

    1. awaldstein

      great comment william.twitter possibly could be about following topics but honestly, not really. it has been and remains to be a non engagement stream of broadcasts from people who sit at the top of individuals celeb list be they Fred or Kanye.platforms don’t evolve well without intent.

      1. William Mougayar

        Twitter has the potential to be bigger than it is, if it let itself be more than a one-trick follow-people pony.If all the damn world is on Twitter, then give me more than my finger as a tool to get to it.Imagine if you could only consume the Web just as a stream, with no other ways to search it, slice it, and get alerted on it.Twitter takes the same mentality as Medium where its main page remains a mystery, and you got to keep finding stuff by happenstance.Twitter is the tip of the Web, and it needs to evolve as such.

        1. awaldstein

          I like where you are going with this.Us web thinkers have a tendency and a good one to say–what if?What if Twitter became this cause it could? I agree but I wonder about Twitter.The only platform that has really show the guts to do what could be and stretch it is–i must say Facebook.For all of its crap, I look at this and have worked on it since day 1 and its accomplishments are honestly beyond anything I’ve seen in my career.It takes corporate guts and vision. Does Twitter have that or want that?(Guts in tech is forever defined by Apple. Remember when they just decided to stop having a floppy drive? Gotta love them.)

          1. William Mougayar

            Agreed. Let’s see who they pick as CEO. I’m available in case Spencer Stuart is reading this blog.

          2. awaldstein

            I’m not ;)This is a media play through and through. I’ve done this lots but my dna is in building brand that drives transactional models.Twitter is oh so obfuscated about who they are honestly.Well maybe they do need me!

          3. LE

            Look anything is possible (hey Ben Carson was head of the team that separated the brain of co-joined twins) [1] but fixing twitter if you want to call it that does not fit with my theory that in business most success is either taking advantage of the low hanging fruit of opportunity, luck, timing or having some advantage that others do not have.You know when Cable TV came out nobody had to fix anything they just needed to ride the wave (ditto for broadcast tv). Ditto for motion pictures. Ditto for the Internet. Ditto for Automobiles. Electricity. Facebook. And so on. Football. Baseball. Golf. Ice Hockey. Sex. Hey it just all works and if you execute well you get your portion of the business.Bringing in a new CEO typically works when there is a base business that has demand that needs to be made ship shape. “Boeing is losing money but people want their airplanes”. With twitter there is the advertising pie but seems that if that was fixable it would have already been done (by the “taking advantage of low hanging fruit” theory).Fixing twitter would be like getting more people to take religion seriously when most have already decided they don’t need it like they did 200 years ago.[1] http://www.hopkinsmedicine….Edit: By “most” I mean statistically out of the millions of businesses out there operating.

          4. Richard

            I can’t think of a single company with more upside potential than Twitter. This is definitely problem a CEO could nail.

          5. LE

            Making people who are lazy and unproductive valuable members of society also has huge upside potential. As does reversing America’s decline as a result of illegal drug use. But by my “laws” it’s fighting a losing battle not likely to be won. (Twitter is easier though so we shall see going forward if you are right or not).

          6. Drew Meyers

            Agree. I don’t think most people in the world need Twitter. There’s no real “problem” it solves. There is certainly no need for 24/7 news online…same as there is no need for 24/7 news on TV.

          7. LE

            It solves the problem of infotainment and perhaps education?I wonder to what extent they have a handle on people who use and are happy with twitter and those who don’t use it (regardless of whether those people have tried twitter or not). At this stage of the product everybody has heard about twitter the question is how do you get more people to use it and rely on it. This is really no different than getting more people to play, say, golf, assumption is of course that that is even possible.For example what if you tried to get people in their 20’s to read print newspapers? Is that even possible? If not, why not? How would you change that?

          8. Drew Meyers

            There is a strong b2b problem for sure. That’s why I use, and love, Twitter. Education, sure. But I wouldn’t call education a urgent “problem” people think they need to solve, hence not sure they would be willing to download/sign up for a new app/website to address it.I’m biased in my belief infotainment is not a problem worth caring about or solving. Other people can work on that, but it’s something I have beyond zero interest in.Getting more people to play golf. The only way to do that, imho, is for their friends to convince them it’s a worthwhile endeavor and drag them along the next time they go. At least, that’s the quickest path to changing existing behavior.

          9. LE

            Getting more people to play golf. The only way to do that, imho, is for their friends to convince them it’s a worthwhile endeavor and drag them along the next time they go.There is a strong use case for golf in doing business deals. If I did the type of business deals that would be helped by playing golf, I would golf and I would probably like to golf. Because I would see it as a means to an end. Just like a politicians sees attending stupid boring parades (in my view) as a means to an end. Connect with voters.So if I was young and had never tried golf then it would have to be pointed out to me (say I was an attorney, realtor, consultant, insurance salesman) that “it’s a good idea to golf it will help you in your business”. A young person wouldn’t make the connection typically without it being pointed out to them.So what is the equivalent with twitter?Golf – Then there are people like my stepson who never met a sport or a game that he didn’t like. I suspect that he will possibly like golf when he gets older. So for him, it’s a game like playing computer games. That said why go shlep out to a golf course when you can veg in front of a screen and zone out? (See the competition?)The “drag the friend along” is good depending on the friend and the relationship.

          10. Susan Rubinsky

            I don’t agree. The best way to get more people to play golf is to introduce golf as a sport in public schools at the elementary level.

          11. William Mougayar

            Real-time news breaking and largely uncensored individual expression are 2 great Twitter features, no?

          12. Drew Meyers

            Real time news is useful every once and awhile – but real time breaking news all the time is essentially what Twitter is striving for? Most news is in-actionable, and irrelevant to real life. 24/7 news is not a needed thing in the world, imho. I really don’t think Twitter or mainstream media are going to convince more people they should pay attention to news all the time…because they will realize it’s an utter waste of them.Seth Godin – “They’re struggling to turn Snapchat and Twitter and other sites into substitutes for TV, but it’s not working, because it’s an astonishing waste of attention.” –> http://sethgodin.typepad.co… I completely agree uncensored individual expression is a great thing in the world. But I wouldn’t call it an urgent urgent problem (for most people) that’s going to get more people to use Twitter more often.

          13. William Mougayar

            Dunno…It is a great platform for open expression.Where else can you so easily publish something and have the whole world potentially see it 5 seconds later?

          14. Drew Meyers

            I’m not arguing that’s a great use for Twitter. I’m arguing that isn’t an urgent problem for most people.

          15. awaldstein

            Did you say ‘dunno”?

          16. William Mougayar

            am i copying your expression πŸ™‚ ?

          17. awaldstein

            i’m flattered!

          18. Jess Bachman

            Yep, Facebook may not be innovating… but you can’t say they don’t ship a ton of new product.

          19. LE

            Guts in tech is forever defined by Apple. Remember when they just decided to stop having a floppy drive?Definitely.Apple was able to do that (and similar things like changing cable standards and removal of cd drives later on) because it’s Apple and it has a large and loyal fan base and at that time (floppies) was a niche and not widely used computer (as opposed to the PC platform) and it could dictate to their software developers and get them on board. This is different but also similar in a way to Walmart which at a certain point required all vendors to use bar codes or loose Walmarts business. That’s pretty much something that Walmart could do that Macy’s could not. Not as big and powerful.So in the case of Apple we have extreme loyalty and in the case of Walmart we have extreme power. Apple didn’t have to worry about getting it’s smaller software developers on board and most likely simply “detailed” the larger developers to get them to distribute software via CD’s instead of floppies or in addition to floppies. [1] Apple of course now is a whale. Which is why they can roll out a product like Apple pay and get it adopted by major players as opposed to another company which would have a much more difficult if not impossible time doing exactly the same thing.[1] And for a time certain software came with floppies and on CD.It takes corporate guts and vision. Does Twitter have that or want that?No low hanging fruit for Twitter unfortunately. Just look at the feature above that Fred thinks is great. How many people need that? How many people have the time like Fred did to assemble 1000 people to even have the problem that Fred feels is solved? How do most people get their infotainment anyway? Fred’s use is probably 90% a business use (needing to keep on top of things for investing purposes) and 10% infotainment. Does Fred even use twitter with regards to his hobbies (sports, dining and music?). Who has the time for this anyway?

          20. Matt A. Myers

            You just made me wonder.. what’s the equivalent to the floppy drive that no one really needs now because there’s a better technology – but on the web? Not sure I’m being clear enough but I’ll leave it simple to start.

        2. Jess Bachman

          Thats a fun comparison. I think the major roadblock is the adherence to a personal stream. There are many types of streams running through twitter. I’d love to be able to hop from one to the other… but instead they are all squished, sliced, and diced, to make up my own personal stream and there is very little context left intact.

          1. Stephen Bradley

            Couldn’t agree more!!! Check out my comment to William Mougayar above…

        3. Richard

          the data mining is not the hurdle as much as the ux/ui.

      2. Jess Bachman

        I couldn’t agree more.

      3. Stephen Bradley

        Right on

    2. Twain Twain

      The way Twitter team set up their collaborative filters for content affects what gets surfaced and presented.Their newly assembled Machine Learning team has been busy, haha.The keywords filter is easy for them to do because detailed #hashtags are relatively straightforward to scrape.#hashtags act as a useful value index in Twitter’s vast database of tweets.Still, they have some way to go to get more new users and to onboard those new users to upload content.

    3. Stephen Bradley

      This is a big part of the problem solved by AuthorBee (http://authorbee.com). Enter a TOPIC and AuthorBee starts filtering and storing a personalized stream of Tweets for you on that topic. You can be notified of new posts or just check back whenever you want. You can constrain the stream to the people you follow, or not. The stream reads more like a story – in fact you can easily curate any part of the stream (Storify-like) into a story you can share with others who share the interest. It solves a huge problem Twitter – in fact most social platforms – face. Try it.

      1. William Mougayar

        Thank you. I just tried it. I think it would be better as part of the native experience though.

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          Reminds me that twitter is the WordPress of social media. Just like Facebook is the Drupal.Wordpress works for startup websites but starts breaking as it grows to become a crazy octopus full of flaws and holes that you have to keep adding more and more plug-ins to to get it to do what you want.Drupal, on the other hand, just works the way you set it up to work in the first place.Maybe not a perfect analogy, but when you said “native experience” you hit the nail on the head regarding the core issue with twitter; to get value from twitter, you have to use a bunch of plug-ins or other services to get it to do what you want.

          1. William Mougayar

            Good analogy, Susan & I like the crazy octopus metaphor too.

        2. Stephen Bradley

          I think it would be awesome as part of the native experience. Not just for the topic tracking, but for the community aspect it would facilitate. Perhaps more like Reddit. Except it isn’t. I do think there is value across platforms beyond just Twitter, too..tho Twitter is clearly the dominant need. Thanks for trying it out.

          1. William Mougayar

            Ah, I didn’t notice the Community groups the first time, but I did now. That could be interesting.

    4. JamesHRH

      There are 2 parts to this: notifications are the future of mobile & curated content.I think that curated content is likely a long term winning idea, but it will take a long time and it will just become SOP. Everybody will do it, no big whoop. But, every body has to agree to have all these content services track their interest, which will be what slows down adoption.I also think the same is true for notifications, although the impact of the deck-less phone could be really, really interesting (far more than curated content).The folks @ Intercom got after this idea a while ago. I think it is pretty close to a glimpse of the future – https://blog.intercom.io/th

    5. Peter Beddows

      The “Popular in your network” alerts are often quite helpful and informative. We receive them via email which reminds me of the old British saying about “going around the Wreckin to reach your objective”!

  3. pointsnfigures

    nice, will be good for me when it comes to iPhone.

  4. Richard

    Twitter’s push of content continues to feel, well, pushy. I’m not convinced that the Facebook strategy is Twitter’s best path to growth.

    1. awaldstein

      all media models are interruptive and push by design regardless of how natural they try to be.

      1. Richard

        I agree, with a twist, see my comments to fred below.

    2. William Mougayar

      Why do you think it is Facebookish?

      1. Jess Bachman

        Are they not testing the waters for a full on Edgerank experience?

        1. William Mougayar

          I’m not sure.

      2. Richard

        Default search page:

        1. William Mougayar

          But that’s just a snippet of Twitter.

          1. Richard

            But this is the page a see 10x a day when i search

    3. fredwilson

      They have been a game changer for me.

      1. Jess Bachman

        I wonder how many people the median twitter user follows… this stat seems to be elusive (I can’t find it).I also wonder if this feature is also game changer for many of the people who make feature decisions at twitter.

      2. Richard

        Id like to see Twitter push notifications but in a new way, by communicating to me. What if I received notifications like? hey Richard, @fred and 25 of his followers are tweeting at a conference today, focus your feed on it?Or, hey Richard, I know how you like to keep up on nutrition breakthroughs, there is an amazing feed on dark cherry research, add it to your feed?

    4. Ana Milicevic

      It’s hard to transition from a pull to a push for existing users. New users who are only introduced to push probably have an easier time. But I agree with you – as a long-time user I find their push attempts…. well, pushy.

  5. JimHirshfield

    What? Mention notifications is off? πŸ˜‰

  6. kirklove

    #EmSelfie πŸ˜‰

    1. fredwilson

      Jess. But you are good at noticing Here’s the whole thing.

      1. kirklove

        Damn! Meant Jess. I’ll get that right one day. Sorry Jess!

        1. LE

          Looks very Bam Bam….

          1. fredwilson

            i think you mean Pebbles. and her dad is named Fred!!

          2. LE

            Yes! I thought “bam bam” did a google image search and plucked that picture from the results.

  7. Ana Milicevic

    So far I’ve been underwhelmed with this feature because it mainly seems to surface tweets in my feed w/ high engagement. These tend to be the very same tweets I’m likely to notice anyway because the network is amplifying them. My approach to Twitter in general is that it’s ephemeral so I don’t feel compelled to keep on top of every tweet from my favorite tweeters.What I would like to see would be an easier native way to follow a topic (classification and contextualization is a juicy, juicy problem) and see what people are talking about in a particular location.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      This is the biggest issue with platforms. Platforms want to draw more of your attention by adding more constant higher value, however then you’re more likely to miss the little nuggets that make you and your interests different from the crowd.

      1. Ana Milicevic

        Indeed, but that dilemma is not limited just to platforms: it’s an issue of product maturity. As you move from the early adopter category of users to a more mainstream audience, usage patterns change and the way mainstreamers are using your product ends up being different than what the early adopters care about. If you don’t cater to both you risk alienating a very influential audience. Twitter in particular seems to be really struggling with this transition and I think this is why there’s so much emphasis in the trades on the next CEO needing to be a product leader.It’s the product version of ‘this bar sucks, there’s always too many people here’ πŸ™‚

        1. Drew Meyers

          I hate crowded bars

  8. Jess Bachman

    Filter creep… and so it begins.

  9. Emily Steed

    Very cool. Thanks for posting!

  10. BillMcNeely

    Thinking about switching between iPhone and Android. Which android do you recommend ?

    1. fredwilson

      Hearing good things about the new One Plushttp://www.amazon.com/gp/aw…

    2. William Mougayar

      Xiaomi Mi4 or Redmi Note.

  11. Stephen Bradley

    Highlights are OK for the things I don’t know I’m interested in. But there are many things I DO know I’m interested in – and THOSE are the things I most don’t want to miss out on.

  12. Ayush Neupane

    My highlights for yesterday looked almost exactly the same!

  13. Bruce Warila

    it’s Fix Twitter Friday…

  14. Rob Larson

    I couldn’t agree more with your position on this and the “while you were away” feature. And I think this issue is the main challenge/opportunity Twitter faces in increasing user adoption. A lot of people (from the data, it seems “most people”) don’t want to spend the time sifting through all the chaff to get to the gold nuggets in their feeds. The more easily and quickly these people can see what is important and interesting to them, the more Twitter will draw them in.

  15. laurie kalmanson

    usage patterns– using twitter to chat with friends: “tweets that should have been texts” (never for me)– following lists / thought leaders: news i can use (sometimes for me)– dipping in for hashtags when twitter is the fastest, best source of breaking news, trends, movements (that’s what i use it for most)tweetdeck, dearly departed, organized the streams well, whatever the usage pattern. more like that.material, the newish design pattern from google fits well with twitter; a series of tweetdeck style material cards to organize the stream on the homepage, then personalize for yours

  16. Vervick Gomes

    Enough said and promoting about Twitter in this forum. ad nauseum.The poor stock price tells what it is all about. It is a dead horse. Don’t eulogize it anymore

    1. fredwilson

      This is my blog. I write about what I’m thinking about. If you don’t like it please don’t waste your time coming here.

      1. Vervick Gomes

        You are better off writing these in your personal diary then, if you aren’t blogging the right topics.These topics are very often misleading to investors and stock brokers

        1. Rohan

          The way I see it – if investors and stock brokers are misled, it is their choice.Kind of dumb to come here and expect some unrealistic, unbiased agenda.

          1. Vervick Gomes

            Rohan with no last name, don’t come up with blonde jokes here. We investors look for all data sources and points, and whenever we come across false representation of data, especially about dying companies, we speak up just so the individual investors does not turn up the volatility of the stock. For Fred to talk about Twitter now is lame

          2. kidmercury

            wanted to chime in on this three way beef and hopefully add some fuel to the fire. have to side with rohan and fred. especially rohan’s point that investors are responsible for their own capital. some investors like volatility, others don’t — all behave accordingly and are free to do so. also, individual investors don’t push the market in this environment, only the uneducated hold such views (no offense).beef scoreboard:first place: rohansecond place: fredthird (aka last) place: vervick

          3. Vervick Gomes

            sorry kid, i care two figs for what you were attempting to say. one fig is for cleaning through. and the other fig is for you to stop fawning at Fred.markets have changed, individual investors started to dominate on a global level and scrounging for information everywhere. go read about china and let’s talk more

          4. Rohan

            Hello Vervick,The dictionary definition of a blog: a website that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writerIf Fred was dispensing investing advice here, that would be different.And, do me a favor, try and be respectful. It doesn’t look like you are. But, for god’s sake, try.

          5. Vervick Gomes

            I cannot.living a lifestyle of couch potato and flipping over dictionaries is not a job 9 out 10 people would want heretry this one day. Speak up and bear the responsibility for all the people that have put their money and investments at stake on you. Do you still find yourselves calm and composed ?

          6. Rohan

            Choosing to disengage. Happy trolling.

          7. Vervick Gomes

            mislead as in misled ??

  17. sigmaalgebra

    Yup, that’s a case of personalization.Yup, personalization is important, e.g., the Internet is a rapidly flowing ocean of content out there; and each individual needs to know some of it, but no individual can try to know all of it. So, there needs to be some filtering particular to each individual.Yup, for Internet content, there are lots of approaches to, and applications of, personalization. Yup, lots, some approaches better than others!For more on applications of personalization, with some irony, athttps://gigaom.com/2011/08/…isRobert Andrews, Full Transcript: Eric Schmidt’s Edinburgh Festival Keynote Aug. 26, 2011 – 4:05 PM PDT

  18. Dan Conway

    In early Twitter years, I vaguely recall you could for awhile click on and see someone else’s feed the way they received it. It was a tweaked insight into someone else’s world and a way to experience how others were learning or communicating. Nice organic way to discover follows to add to your own stream as well.

  19. Salt Shaker

    The CEO pick will be interesting. The ad guy (Bain) is clearly the dark horse in this race. Yeah, ad rev needs to be more robust but it starts w/ product and better topic discovery and curation, IMO. Leads to stronger usage/engagement. Great/relevant content for me currently just hard to find. Too much work presently.

  20. Rick Mason

    If you’re following more than a thousand people I can see how this might be useful. Just like the tools that tweet the same content four or five times in a week so you don’t miss it.But if you’re like me who has a highly curated follow list of less than a hundred people they’re extremely annoying and reduce the quality of Twitter interaction. Primarily because like a lot of ‘while you were away’ features you can’t turn them off.These days everything Twitter does is reducing its value for me.

  21. Vasudev Ram

    Not directly related to the topic, but kind of, since it is about Twitter:Some time ago I got to know from someone that the mobile version of the Twitter site ( https://mobile.twitter.com) , can work better (and faster) than the desktop web site (https://twitter.com) – even on desktop browsers. Since then I’ve been using only (mostly) the mobile site on my desktop / laptop PC. Try it if interested.

  22. ErikSchwartz

    I really wish twitter would report DAU rather than MAU. For a product like twitter MAU is pretty meaningless.

  23. Peter Beddows

    This is amazing. Such great potential that I immediately picked up my phone to see if I have this feature in my twitter app: Sadly, no!But maybe there is more to this omission in our case than meets the eye. At the risk of being relegated to the ranks of the Dodo, my partner and I are still devoted to BlackBerry. From our business standpoint, our BB’s serve us well since we can access all useful social media forums including Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, foursquare and BB secure email, we have no use or need for anything else. Just wish the Passport worked on Verizon!!! πŸ™‚

  24. Stephen Bradley

    At least check out http://authorbee.com… it’s an amazing solution for coalescing Twitter content, and users interested in that content, around TOPICS.

  25. laurie kalmanson

    facebook: people you knowtwitter: topics