Despite an early rush from Twitter (now X) escapees, Meta's Threads is not yet the new Twitter – and the lack of two key features is part of the reason why. Unlike most other social networks there's no search feature yet – and even more importantly, there's no way to post from the desktop unless you want to mess around with Android phone emulators. That's about to change.
The lack of desktop posting might not seem important. But one of the things that made Twitter so successful was that a huge number of its most entertaining and/or interesting users were posting during the day from their work computers.
That's currently absent on Threads, but Mark Zuckerberg says it's coming soon: at the weekend he posted that search and a desktop version were coming in the next few weeks. And the desktop version can't come soon enough.
Why Threads needs a desktop app
Threads is a very different beast from Instagram, even though they're owned by the same company and have very similar interfaces. Instagram is an image- and video-based service, and the tools that most people use to create images and videos are phones. So of course it makes sense for Instagram to be a phone app.
Threads, though, is primarily text-based. And the kind of people who post text are people who work with words, and those people tend to work with their words on computers. Whether they're comedians, authors, journalists, radio presenters or just really funny people, desktop apps enable them to post lots of stuff that makes the social network they post to a place you want to spend time in when you and they are supposed to be studying or working.
I follow a lot of the same people across Twitter, Bluesky, Mastodon, Instagram and Threads, and I've noticed a real difference in how those people post on the different platforms. Twitter is still the place where people tend to post a lot of short, sweet, punchy content. Bluesky is a bit more daft and irreverent and often unsafe for work; Instagram is the same but with photos. And Mastodon and Threads, the two key destinations for ex-X users, are much, much quieter.
In my feeds at least both services are much, much quieter than they were during the initial excitement: Mastodon because lots of people joined and then appear to have stopped posting, boosting and starring things; Threads because most of the people I follow aren't on their phones during the day. Right now those people are only sharing on Threads in a trickle. I suspect a desktop app would turn that trickle into a torrent.