Do you need a simple news feed for your application? You could probably rent a piece of server and code something in PHP, Ruby or Python, you could for example use google app engine as your backend.
But did you think about using Twitter?
3 limitations you have to know before choosing Twitter as your backend :
- Each article will be 144 characters max, but do you really think your customers want to read more? Simply add a link in your tweet for the ones who want to read more.
- You can’t modify your tweet once it’s posted, think twice before posting.
- Twitter is known to have many outages, but it improves a lot on this side.
4 major benefits of using Twitter as your news backend :
- It’s free.
- Nothing to code server side, BIG time saver.
- Thousands of clients for every kind of device are available. You can manage your backend from everywhere and everything.
- Your application users can follow its news on twitter.
I’ve been sucessfully using Twitter as my news backend for 1 year now. It’s implemented in all my iPhone / iPad games.
Let’s take an example with Blockoban. First of all, as we are talking about iOS development, you’ll have to get a Cocoa Twitter client. I used the great MGTwitterEngine. Let’s see what happens when launching the game.
- Application launch. Main menu is displayed.
- Request in background the timeline of the Twitter account you have created for your news feed. In this example, the application is looking for @blockoban timeline.
- Check the date of the latest tweet. If it’s new (unread), we highlight the “News” item in the menu.
- The user decides to check the news, the application display a page that formats the twitter timeline in its own style. Links are changed into buttons for the readers who want to see more.
So here it is, you can keep your players informed about the latest news without updating the application. I’ve been using this for 1 year now, and I’m very happy with it. It’s not the most sophisticated news system of the world, but it just does the job. Note that this can be used also to cross promote your games, as seen in the screenshot above.