Showing some repeat favoritism, Apple has once again picked Twitter to power the coolest social experiences for its 600 million iOS device owners.
During a keynote address at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference, the Cupertino company lifted the veil on iOS 7, its next-generation mobile operating system that reflects a new way of thinking around design. Aside from its altered appearance, the redone OS -- coming to consumers' iPhones and iPads this fall -- features a new Control Center, improved multitasking, iTunes Radio, better Camera and Photos apps, and an updated Safari browser.
Twitter is also ever-present in the release, having been upgraded from dumb social pipe to intelligent content provider. The information network has had an intimate connection to Apple and iOS customers since getting system-level integration in the 2011 release of iOS 5. The blessing helped Twitter instantly triple its iOS sign-ups. A year later, Facebook got the same treatment. (Curiously, both Twitter and Facebook status update options have been removed from the Notification Center in iOS 7.)
With iOS 7, Twitter will further infiltrate your device, going deeper into the operating system and becoming one with the system. Facebook not so much.
For starters, in the new version of Safari, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch owners will find something called Shared Links, a pre-populated reading list of articles as shared by the people they follow on Twitter. Here they can scroll through all the URLs from their Twitter timeline, as plucked out by Apple and Twitter. The Twitter browser addition, also coming to the new version of Safari for OS X Mavericks, acts as an alternative to searching, and gives people a no-nonsense, all-content view of what's happening on Twitter, as it's happening.
But when it comes to searching, Siri and Twitter can do that too. In iOS 7, Siri has sucked in Twitter intelligence so that when you ask what people are saying about certain topics, she (or he now!) can tell you by showing you their tweets.
As an extra bonus, Twitter gets to play along with Apple's iTunes Radio, the brand-new Pandora-like digital radio service for Apple devices. iTunes Radio comes with more than 200 promoted genre-based stations, including one featured station that plays tracks trending on Twitter.
The music inclusion means that Twitter's own two-month old radio offering won't be getting trounced by the far bigger digital media player. Instead, it will be boosted by the association.
It's not as if Facebook has been booted from Apple handsets -- it's still a part of share sheets for one-click posting -- but the social network has certainly being pushed to the background, relegated to a distance second place in social in Apple's world.
History could repeat itself with Facebook eventually getting the same treatment, but for now Apple is team Twitter.