Twitter is working on a search subscriber feature for keyword alerts and notifications


Twitter appears to be working on a feature called “Search Subscribe,” which will allow users to choose to receive notifications for new tweets that match a search query. The feature was first noticed by developer Dylan Roussel, and appears to place Twitter’s notification icon next to the search box in the app. Tap the bell and you’ll get notifications for new results.

Search Subscribe is only showing up in the Twitter Alpha app for now, so don’t take this as a sign that it’s imminent or even coming. But it’s an interesting idea, and yet another attempt by Twitter to make it easier for users to find the things they’re really looking for. Right now you can get notifications for individual users, or selectively mute or block things by keyword, but you can’t opt-in to specific tweets instead of specific tweeters. As 9to5Google points out, the closest analogy to this is probably TweetDeck, which lets you create a search result column and get notifications every time it’s updated. And given TweetDeck’s impending demise as a native app, it’s good to see all of its features migrating to the only remaining Twitter clients.

In a way, signing up for what amounts to Twitter’s version of Google Alerts sounds like a push notification nightmare. Hit that bell at ‘Depp Heard’ or ‘NBA Finals’ and watch your phone explode with useless notifications. But Twitter’s search feature allows for a lot of advanced filtering so you could use it to get notifications from a single person, but only their best tweets or the ones you care about most. Or, with some effort, you could search for just the tweets mentioning the NBA or the Celtics or the Warriors or basketball in general, from your six favorite basketball writers, and only those that get more than 50 likes.

You can already create and save complex searches like this, but you’ll always have to run the search every time you want to see what’s new. Search Subscribing can be a useful way to get exactly the notifications you’re looking for – and I stress that it can also be a huge mess. Or you can just do what everyone else does with Google Alerts and set one up for your name. In that case, given Twitter’s propensity for chaos and anger, the fewer notifications the better.

Again, there is no indication if or when this feature will be launched. Twitter has not yet responded to a request for comment, and has given the ongoing turmoil in the company’s product team, all bets seem to match the company’s roadmap. But if so, here’s some advice: choose your search terribly careful before you hit that bell.