Snapchat is working an enormous new redesign

Snapchat Feb 13, 2020

A new home for the Snap Map and its original shows — plus a replacement test of stories briefs

Snap is functioning on two significant tests that would reshape its flagship app during a critical year. Tipsters have provided me with screenshots of two ongoing tests that have unrolled to a little percentage of Snapchat’s user base. One may be a redesign of the app for Android and iOS that gives a replacement home for the Snap Map and therefore the company’s original video programming. the opposite may be a test of breaking news headlines inside the app that injects timely news briefs into Snapchat to enrich the prevailing magazine-style stories on the Discover page.

Let’s check out them successively .

The redesign takes an app that has long been limited to 3 screens and splits them into five. Snapchat currently opens to the camera, with an area for chats to the left and therefore the Discover page — which features a set of ephemeral stories from friends, creators, third-party publishers, and Snap itself — to the proper . within the new design, the Snap Map — which displays your friends’ physical locations on an animated map, and was previously accessed by demolition from the camera screen — is now on the left of your chats. Discover has been renamed “Community.” And Snap’s slate of original series, which incorporates serialized dramas and reality-style programs, are often found to the proper of Community during a new tab that has inherited the “Discover” name.

Perhaps most dramatically for Snap, which once appeared to pride itself in its obscure design choices, Snapchat is getting a navigation bar. You’ll be ready to see where you're within the app at a look , and move directly from screen to screen with one tap rather than swiping. It’s both a completely obvious thing to try to to and, for Snap, a radical departure.

“We’re exploring ways to streamline navigation across Snapchat, soliciting feedback from our community to tell future versions of our app,” a Snap spokeswoman told me. “This test’s UI offers more room to innovate and increases the chance to interact with and find out even more of what Snapchat has got to offer.”

The test of this New Look comes three years after Snap’s last redesign, which was widely panned and spurred 2 percent of active users to prevent using Snapchat entirely. Snap gradually walked back a number of the foremost hated changes, which combined with new attention to its long-neglected Android app and marketing itself internationally led the corporate to possess something of a comeback last year. Snapchat has added uses for the past four straight quarters, and is now employed by 218 million people each day .

Still, the corporate isn't profitable. And while it remains successful with highschool and college-age users, adults who try the app still complain — loudly — that they find Snapchat difficult to use. I find these complaints somewhat overstated — i feel most of the people avoid learning the way to use any technology they don’t need to , which if boomers’ friends were all using Snapchat they might manage to work it out within a few of days. But still, there’s no denying that Snapchat features a learning curve above , say, Facebook Messenger.

And for everything that did to offer Snapchat a way of cool in its youth , there’s an honest argument to be made that its more arcane user decisions are holding it back. I’d put the situation of the Snap Map high thereon list — it’s an ingenious feature that Facebook has found itself totally unable to repeat thanks to privacy concerns, and today it’s basically invisible inside Snapchat. Giving the map an easy-to-find screen within the app seems like a no brainer .

Similarly, Snap has invested heavily in premium programming for its Snap Originals. (Although almost as heavily as, say, Quibi.) Currently, what Snap calls Shows are displayed during a row next to other publisher content on the Discover page, where they're easily ignored. Giving them an area of prominence within the app seems like a similarly obvious step.

Still, Snap learned its lesson from the good redesign debacle of 2017, which it unrolled globally with little or no testing. Today Snap, like every other social company, is taking a deliberate approach to major changes. i think this one are going to be popular and ultimately implemented, though. Where the bad redesign scrambled a bunch of popular elements and moved them into unfamiliar places, the five-screen design feels additive to the experience. You navigate the app less, and use it more. That’s a win for the corporate .

The second test, while less dramatic, is more relevant to our everyday interests here at The Interface. There are two basic ways to place news on your social platform. the primary is to let everyone fight it call at a feed, and do some light curating round the big moments. Think the Twitter timeline plus Moments, or Facebook’s News Feed plus a news tab. The upside to the present approach is that you simply make space for many voices, including some who are historically marginalized. The downside is that many voices have historically been marginalized for a reason — they’re overtly racist, for instance , or they tell you that drinking bleach will cure your cancer.

The second approach, and therefore the one favored by Snap, has been to permit only whitelisted publishers onto the platform. In theory, this could elevate high-quality and mainstream news publishers while limiting the quantity of misinformation on the platform. It hasn’t always been perfect — Snapchat’s Discover page has long been criticized for clickbait and sexually provocative stories — but the corporate has seen far fewer scandals around hosting dangerous and extremist content than its peers.

The news briefs I saw featured timely headlines from publishers include NowThis, the Wall Street Journal, and therefore the Washington Post. Called “Happening Now,” the section curates top headlines about developments within the us and therefore the world. Each one-sentence headline are often tapped to mention a full screen news brief containing a photograph and a brief article. (The one I saw, about the New Hampshire primary, was about 75 words.)

Snap confirmed the test.

“We are within the very early stages of exploring the way to evolve news offerings on Snapchat,” the corporate said. “We are working with a couple of partners and testing with alittle percentage of Snapchatters within the U.S. We don’t have additional details to share at this point .”

A collection of stories briefs may appear as if alittle thing, and maybe it's . But surfacing high-quality mainstream news outlets just like the Post and therefore the Journal to a young audience strikes me as an honest thing, particularly in an election year.

Snap emphasized to me that both of those tests are in their early stages and might change substantially before they're released to a worldwide audience, if they're released globally in the least . But it seems clear to me that a minimum of within the case of the redesign, larger forces will continue pulling them toward the more accessible version of the app I saw in screenshots.

Having a reputation for being inaccessible benefited Snapchat — until it didn’t. because the app grows up, it’s working to become a more welcoming place. which suggests being a touch bit more like everyone else.

Correction, 10:11 p.m.: this text originally said Snapchat is employed by 218 million people a month. it's actually employed by 218 million people each day .



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