On November 29, Snap Inc. announced in a blog post launching the “new Snapchat,” an updated version of the app “that separates the social from the media.”
“New Snapchat” will split communication with friends from content produced by publishers and creators. In its current iteration, Snapchat is set up in four panels users swipe through to navigate to Chat, Stories, Discover, or the main camera.
Opening the app defaults to the camera, where users take pictures, videos, or send Chats directly to a single friend or a chosen group. This is the closest to Snap’s original app, but with added bonuses over the years, like Chat and Bitmoji. Swiping to the left of the camera brings you to the feed of snaps with your friends.
Currently, one swipe to the right of camera brings you to Stories, where individuals can upload a collection of Snaps and videos to their My Story, a Group Story, or contribute to an Our Story, like during a major sporting event.
The feed of Stories lets you select which friend’s story you want to view, but will automatically play through to the next posts in the feed unless you swipe out back to the main screen.
Right now, sneaky paid advertisements play between each friend’s story. Sure, you can swipe out of those too, but it’s annoying enough that some people have told me they’ve stopped using the app entirely because of the ads sandwiched in Stories.
Another swipe right brings you to Discover, which features a grid of Stories from a variety of producers, like Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, Vice, Sportscenter, and Popular Mechanics to name just a few. These Stories also feature a series of ads between pages, but since it’s clearly content, it makes more sense to see ads here.
As of the latest update, Stories and Discover are both still hanging out on the right side of the camera landing page.
New Snap proposes keeping friends on the left, media on the right. Even though media is already on the right, and has been since the 2015 introduction of Discover, a collection of Stories from content creators and news outlets.
While this isn’t a huge change visually, the move shows Snap’s continued dedication to caring about how people are actually using their app. As CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel noted in the promotional video, “Your friends aren’t content, they’re relationships.” So, separating the social from the media makes this distinction a bit clearer.
The Best Friends feature is also slated for an update, with a more dynamic algorithm using machine learning to determine who you talk to the most and order your friends accordingly. Additionally, the Stories feed will be personalized based on your activity and subscriptions.
Plus, Snap said they’ll be curating and verifying everything posted in the Discover pages to avoid perpetuation of hate speech and fake news. I’m really hoping New Snapchat also means no more forcing ads between watching your friends’ stories.
Since Snap Inc. went public in March with its IPO, their stock has fallen, and the company is still not profitable. However, continued commitment to designing with its users in mind will hopefully keep Snap afloat.