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Twitter unveils tools to woo developers

Twitter's Flight Mobile Developer conference, which ran Wednesday, gathered 1,000 developers from around the world to convince them Twitter is far more than just an app, but rather a service with a suite of tools to make all mobile apps better—even those that have nothing to do with Twitter.

Kicking off the day of presentations, CEO Dick Costolo announced Fabric, a toolkit designed to "enable mobile developers to focus on building great apps."" Costolo insisted this is about developers and their users, "not about us."

Fabric will be free, and designed to make it easier for developers to integrate Twitter tools when they build their products.

It will help developers do things like address bugs, by integrating tools from Crashlytics (which Twitter bought early last year), and insert mobile ads using MoPub (which Twitter bought a year ago).

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Another new service, called "Digits," enables users to log in to an app by linking that login ID to their phone number. The idea is if it's easier for users to log in, they'll be more likely to try it out, and they'll be more likely to return to it if they can identify themselves with their phone, rather than having to remember a user name and password.

Though Twitter isn't charging for Fabric, there are obvious revenue implications. The company could eventually charge for a premium version later, for example. And most importantly, if developers integrate Twitter's tools, like MoPub to insert ads, and feature more tweet streams in their apps, that should translate to higher revenue.

"We're not actually measuring this by how much revenue we make," says Twitter VP of Product Kevin Weil. "The success metric for us is getting Fabric integrated into every mobile app on your phone."

Fabric has its own brand because it's "bigger than Twitter," Weil said. It's designed to be used for everything from beta testing and crash reporting to mobile analytics. "It's about mobile monetization, mobile identity," Weil says. "And we're bringing those services, much broader than Twitter, to every mobile developer."

McDonald's, Spotify, the Wall Street Journal, and Jawbone all announced integrations with Fabric on stage, as Twitter looked to showcase the wide range of industries it can help.

But the most impressive was Jawbone's unveiling of a new app, called "Drop" to let users play music on Spotify or Rdio, by getting song suggestions from Twitter followers. It demonstrates how a developer can integrate its tools with Twitter to create an entirely new service. Jawbone CEO Husain Rahman says the app allows tweets to serve as "carrier pigeons" for song suggestions.

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