Snap announced a major redesign of its mobile app on Wednesday but it appears the revamped version of the service is only going live on iOS-powered iPhones for the time being. The Venice, Los Angeles-based company didn't clarify when Android users may expect to see the redesign rolled out on their devices, having only confirmed that a small number of people will be able to test the new Snapchat later this week, whereas the change is meant to become more widely available in the second half of December. It's still unclear whether that expanded availability only pertains to iOS users and if the Android platform is planned to be treated to the redesign next year or if Snap will be pushing out the change to both platforms simultaneously in a few weeks' time. The company has a history of prioritizing iOS development so the former scenario appears to be more likely given how no comments suggesting the contrary were given by the Snapchat maker.
The redesign is directly related to Evan Spiegel's recent remarks on the drawbacks of traditional social media platforms like Facebook that saw him criticize their news feeds for directly contributing to major issues like fake news. Snap Chief Executive Officer said the latest version of the app is meant to draw a firm line between the social and media aspects of Snapchat, with the redesign putting all of one's friends to the left of the camera interface while situating Discover Stories from brands to the right. Save for occasional ads displayed in the section showing Stories from friends, Snapchat users will soon be able to completely avoid messages from brands which is likely to hurt Snap's bottom line in the short term, a notion that Snap acknowledged but said it's prepared to risk it to provide its users with a better overall experience of the app. Following the update, managing one's own Stories will be done on the Profile page, the Discover section will automatically display the recently introduced Snap Map, and an optional Group Story will automatically be attached to every Group Chat. Refer to the screenshots below for a first look at the new Snapchat.
The redesign is understood to be the same one promised by Snap as part of its disappointing Q3 financials but doesn't appear to be related to a new Android app the company also vowed to develop from the ground up. Likewise, whereas Mr. Spiegel originally said the revamp will make the app more intuitive to use and thus address one of the most common complaints new users have about it, it's currently unclear how it's meant to do so; the new Snapchat still opens to the camera and behaves in much the same way like the old one did, save for the fact that it makes filtering out brand messages and post from friends possible. Due to that state of affairs, many industry watchers remain skeptical about the potential of the new changes to revive Snapchat's slowing growth like Mr. Spiegel said they would attempt to do because they seemingly cater to existing users instead of new ones while simultaneously hurting advertisers, Snap's main source of revenue. Brands that already invested millions in creating content for Snapchat are unlikely to be happy with the redesign, though the firm promised to debut additional opportunities for distribution and monetization of Snaps in 2018 while simultaneously making its Discover section a more entertaining experience, without clarifying on the matter.