The microblogging service rolled out a series of new features today that together make it more instantly visual and take it even further past 140 characters.
With a flurry of new features unveiled this afternoon, Twitter appears to be aiming more than ever at mimicking some of the most visual elements of Instagram and Facebook.
The most interesting new feature is one that adds a palette of "top" photos and videos to search results. So, for example, if you search for "sunrise," you see a group of photos above the resulting column of tweets, as well as a row of video thumbnails off to the side.
Clearly, the idea here is that Twitter wants users to see more information than ever before, and far more than just the 140 characters of actual tweets. It's an acknowledgement by Twitter that, more than ever, the richest communications are visual, something that netted Instagram a high nine-figure payday (its acquisition by Facebook) and helps make Facebook so attractive to so many people. While a 140-character tweet can contain a wealth of information -- a new thought, a URL, a retweet -- Twitter is nodding to the fact that when someone is searching for something specific, there's a lot of value in giving them an instant visual treat, even one that dominates the screen....
[Early tests of the Twitter search tool showed inconsistency ~ Jeff]