Twitter has had an alpha preview of their app available for testing for quite some time now, and it’s a great way to see what the social media giant has in store for users around the corner. If you’re not a part of Twitter’s alpha test, you can become a member (though it might not be accessible to all), and gain access to early access features. The new features in Twitter alpha include the addition of Android 7.1 shortcuts (accessible by pressing and holding on icons on your launcher screens), and a circular app icon to fit in with the latest Android design preferences.
If you’re running a Pixel phone, or another Android device with the Android 7.1 preview, you can access three shortcuts from your Twitter icon on your desktop: New Message, New Tweet, and Search. Selecting New Message allows you to compose a new DM, and the second opens up the usual tweet compose screen. We’re not sure why Search is included as a shortcut, but we know that Twitter wants to increase the visibility of certain content, so giving users a way to search for it is probably in keeping with their broader strategy.
Support is also added for Android 7.1’s split-screen mode so you can have Twitter running at the same time as something else. We’ve always found Twitter alpha to be fairly stable and usable, though occasionally bugs do get introduced. The current testing version — with these new features — is 6.23.0-alpha.491 (at the time of writing) so if you’re in the alpha test, and don’t have this version yet, check the Play Store for a new version.