Twitter is developing its search capabilities to allow users to discover content beyond basic tweets such as Vines and live streams from Periscope. The social network is aware of the restrictive nature of its current search option and is building a new information retrieval system called Omnisearch in the hope to allow users to discover specific content distributed on the network that is also related to their query – not just tweets.
The announcement, entitled “Introducing Omnisearch”, was made in a post on their blog. With vastly technical language, the network’s director of engineering for search infrastructure Sam Luckenbill made clear that the vision was to begin to provide search as a service and enable production of entirely new kinds of products.
If this new emphasis on developing its search capabilities goes to plan, users could soon be able to discovered indexed content such as GIFs and videos posted to Twitter, Vine and Periscope. It is certainly about time for this sort of development. At the beginning of last year the network agreed to give Google access to its full stream of tweets. While search is most certainly what the latter does best, it stands to reason that Twitter’s own search function should be able to rival them in serving results – otherwise they would be better off offering a basic “powered by Google” web search.
Why it needs to be updated
According to Sam Luckenbill, “Currently, the core search infrastructure team only maintains indexes of Tweets and users.” With a network that is now awash with a whole host of different types of content, this degree of indexing just isn’t sufficient anymore. If Twitter wants to stand any chance of competing with rival networks’ and websites’ habits of enticing users back to their network to rediscover previous content, they need to make these changes – and make them well.