Twitter set the stakes high when its engineering manager said that its search and discovery are "set to change forever" and that "few understand today" the enormity of the impact of this. Now that the official announcement came and the new features were revealed it's easy to see that much of that was true, the search feature has changed, though "forever" may only be until the next update.
But yes, Twitter has finally updated its search feature. That's big only because Twitter's search feature is so bad. Among the great improvements are autocomplete and the ability to search for tweets from inside your feed. You know, the kind of things users have been begging for for years and that qualifies as "basic functionality" at best.
"Search autocomplete shows you the most likely terms for your query as you enter it — especially useful if you’re trying to follow the hashtag for an event or you’re looking for a certain Twitter account. You can select your query from the drop-down menu even before you finish typing it," Twitter explained
If you've ever used a search engine before you've seen autocomplete in action and know how useful it is. In Twitter's case, it's more useful addition than for generic search engines if only because you have a much better idea of the result you want when you search on Twitter.
Another addition is automatic spelling corrections, Twitter will show you the results for the correct query when you botch up your spelling.
Twitter's new search also includes related suggestions, a useful addition for discovery. Searching for a real name will return results that include both the full name and the @username for that person.
Finally, the biggest and most coveted addition is the ability to search within your feed. "In addition to seeing 'All' or 'Top' Tweets for your search, you can also now see Tweets about a given topic from only the people you follow when you select the 'People you follow' view. Viewing Tweets about a topic from just the people you follow is a great way to find useful information and join the conversation," Twitter explained.
All of these, the feed search filter in particular, should have been available for years. The ability to restrict the results to just the people you follow is not much of an engineering problem.
But it's hard to fault Twitter for this. After all, it's only a small company of a thousand people with only a few billion dollars in funding. And it's not like Twitter doesn't have enough on its plate, why, only in the last few months it unveiled hashtag pages, tailored trends and a new logo.