Snapchat, the photo-sharing app the olds can’t seem to figure out, is getting a facelift this week in a do-or-die attempt to win over new users. Snap, the social app’s parent company, said this redesign was coming earlier this month. And today we get see their vision of an “easier to use” Snapchat.
The new design is apparently so incredibly simple that CEO Evan Spiegel had to write an op-ed and make a behind-the-scenes video to make sure we all really get it. Only a “small percentage of users” will get the update later on this week, a Snap spokesperson told Gizmodo, “with wider availability in the coming weeks.”
Snap’s announcement of the new interface on its blog reads like an epiphany from a stoned social media manager, citing the pitfalls of services like Facebook and Twitter in 2017, such as the rise of fake news. “The new Snapchat separates the social from the media,” says Snap.
What this actually means is that Snapchat now has fewer screens to swipe through. The app still lands on the camera, but now all of your friend-related stuff, like messages and photos and stories, live on one page. On the other side of the camera screen is a new “Discover” page with just publisher and branded content. Really, it’s not even that big of a change—but it’s possible the adjustments could still upset dedicated users.
In its blog post, Snap laments the very thing that has transformed social media from a wacky experiment into a business worth billions upon billions of dollars—a business Snap has struggled with since going public earlier this year. Namely: For social media service to make money, businesses have to butt-in and ruin the fun. Nobody wants to look at ads, so they get squished between posts that matter from friends and family.
Until now, social media has always mixed photos and videos from your friends with content from publishers and creators. While blurring the lines between professional content creators and your friends has been an interesting Internet experiment, it has also produced some strange side-effects (like fake news) and made us feel like we have to perform for our friends rather than just express ourselves.
The new Snapchat separates the social from the media. This means that the Chats and Stories from your friends are on the left side of Snapchat, and the Stories from publishers, creators, and the community are on the right.
“There is a strong likelihood that the redesign of our application will be disruptive to our business in the short term,” Snap said earlier this month. And in Snap’s case, disruption would be good; It’s so far struggled to compete with Facebook’s Snapchat clone, Instagram Stories.