Twitter has hinted at releasing their own URL shortener for sometime and they now have done so. Twitter recently implemented the t.co URL shortener...err URL wrapper. The t.co is not really a URL shortening service, but an URL wrapper. So what is an URL wrapper and how does it differ from an URL shortener?
The Twitter URL wrapper will sometimes convert the link to a t.co link or it may just shorten the actual link length. Twitter uses this example:
Wrapped for SMS:
Displayed for web or application users:
It is also noted that in some cases even using the t.com URL in a tweet, Twitter will replace the t.co link with a shorten version of the original URL. This way users can get a better idea about the link. Behind the scenes the URL is still wrapped in the t.co URL. This way analytics can be gathered for each and every link being clicked on in Twitter.
Can you still use another URL shortening service like bit.ly? The short answer is yes. Twitter will still display those links, but they now will be wrapped in a t.co link. You will not see any reference to the t.co link, but Twitter will seamlessly redirect the visitor from their t.co to the bit.ly link to the original URL.