Snapchat’s major redesign, which introduces a universal search bar to the top of the app, among other features, has today hit iOS. The refreshed user interface was first announced earlier this month, but was only available to Android users at the time with a promise that it would reach iPhone users “soon.”
The app has long been criticized for being too hard to navigate – something that gave it a bit of “secret club” status among its core demographic of young adults. After all, if the grown-ups can’t figure out how to use the app’s complicated swipe-gestures to move around and find its features, maybe they’ll just stay away.
While this has helped to contribute to the app’s coolness factor, it’s maybe not as good a look for a company that now wants to cater to brands and advertisers, grow its revenue, and potentially IPO in the year ahead.
With the new search bar, Snapchat aims to make it easier for its users to find friends, groups, Discover publishers and Our Stories. By tapping into the Search box, a new overlay appears, letting you quickly access friends’ messages or stories through its “Quick Chat” suggestions, connect with your group chats, flip through a list of new friends, add others, or find friends in your contacts.
You can also tap and hold someone’s card to see their mini profile, as well as tap your Bitmoji to the left of the search bar to jump to your own full profile. Here, you’ll notice your profile includes your “Best Friends” (frequent contacts), too.
In addition to locating friends’ accounts and stories, you can search for Discover channels or Our Stories by title.
And it’s easier to submit your snaps to Our Story, Snapchat’s curated montages that focus on events, themes, holidays and more. Instead, you can just check the box next to “Our Story,” which gives Snapchat the right to use your posts in whichever Our Story it wants. (Before, users had to pick which Our Story they were authorizing.)
Whether these new features actually make Snapchat easier for newcomers is debatable. The search bar is fairly obvious, and opens the door for search ads in the future, but other features assume a level of familiarity with the app. Snapchat hasn’t really changed its core navigation of using swipes and gestures, but has rather created a way to access shortcuts that take users to its various features and sections.
The update comes at a time when Instagram has fairly successfully copied one of Snapchat’s most powerful features, as its own Instagram Stories have hit 150 million daily users, the same as Snapchat. The hope is that this update will keep Snapchat’s users engaged with the feature it helped pioneer.
So far, Twitter users noticing the update are reporting mixed feelings. Some apparently like the update, while others call it “weird” or “ugly.” Others still, say they’re unsure or confused. This is likely good news for Snapchat, as any new feature will see some griping, but there isn’t yet any major backlash about the changes.
Snapchat’s new version is available in the current iOS update, out now on the App Store.