Pinterest works best on the web, with its big images and pinning from other browser tabs. But mobile is the future and Pinterest needs to play catch up there. Today Pinterest mobile added search suggestions to make single screen pinning easier. Its iOS and Android apps also got basics like notifications and mentions. Pinterest will need to add value, not just port its website, to win on mobile.
The problem with Pinterest on mobile is that it’s fundamentally a collection site — and you need other places to collect from. That’s a breeze on the web with its bookmarklet for pinning, or quick multi-window browsing so you can add things onto your boards. But on mobile with just one screen visible, finding content can be a chore.
Pinterest is trying to fix this with a few updates today. First, search suggestions, also known as a typeahead, can quickly find you people or things when you just type a few letters. Instead of having to dream up what kind of apple-based recipes other users are pinning, typing “apple” now reveals a drop down of suggestions like apple pie (expected) and apple cider vinegar (now that’s discovery).
While already allowed on the Android app, Pinterest’s iOS app also now allows you to type in URLs within the app by hitting the ‘+’ sign at the bottom of the screen to bring in outside content. However, most people don’t know the exact URLs they’d want to pin from, so this may work better with cut and paste. Still, you’re going to have to jump back and forth between your mobile browser and Pinterest to make it work. That’s a lot more friction than on the web.
Finally, both of Pinterest’s core apps got some fundamentals added. Somehow there were not in-app or push notifications before, but now there’s both. You can also now tag people with @mentions from mobile, which feeds in nicely with the new notifications.
Pinterest is one company I’m honestly a little worried about when it comes to mobile. I feel like the nesting instinct is very natural on the desktop that you’re often using from home, your real nest. On mobile the desire to collect and arrange seems both less natural and inherently more difficult with the small screen. Pinterest might flourish on the tablet, but it will have to work hard to make its phone experience as alluring.
It needs to add unique value on the platform that takes advantage of mobile. Pin suggestions based on nearby businesses and board suggestions based on nearby users. Instant uploads from your camera roll to a private board might be a bit aggressive, but some way to more easily pin photos you’ve taken on the go would be great. Whatever is does, it needs to go beyond cramming its website into a smaller box.