Snapchat often feels like the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks to increasingly hilarious filters (who knew I could look so great as a plaid-eared rabbit?), as well as filters that simply let you bask in the most perfect lighting imaginable, the app has a funny way of making sure that we come back for more... even if our friends are much less interested than we are in seeing what we look like with a shrunken head. Beyond cool filters, though, the app has expanded into a platform for news and entertainment content too — and now, with a new update, your friends will now be separate from that news and entertainment content. So, what is the Snapchat update, exactly? Here's what to know.
According to The Daily Mail, the app update and redesign started rolling out for testing in November 2017 and is widely available for users in Canada, the UK, and Australia as of Feb. 7, 2018, and some users in the U.S. The update will automatically install on smartphones that have been upgraded to the latest iOS and Android operating systems, and the update can also be accessed manually from the App store or Play store, respectively. The core difference between the old Snapchat and the new one is that the redesigned version creates a distinction between photos and videos that come from your friends — and their dog, fairy princess, or underwater alter egos — and the content distributed by publishers and other media companies. Now, when you swipe left on your screen, you'll see your friend's Snap story updates mixed in with chat threads you have with your friends, and when you swipe right, you'll see a full screen Discover page with updates from publishers and media companies.
"Until now, social media has always mixed photos and videos from your friends with content from publishers and creators," Snapchat wrote in a Nov. 29, 2017 press release, teasing the upcoming changes. "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."
Here's a glimpse of what the newly redesigned friends page looks like. As you can see, chat threads appear in the same list as Snap story updates do:
In an effort to un-blur those tricky lines (and combat so-called fake news, apparently), "the new Snapchat separates the social from the media," per the press release. When you open the updated version on your phone, it will still jump directly to the camera function, but you'll now have the opportunity to swipe in two different directions to reveal two different feeds, according to The Daily Mail. Swiping left will reveal a new Friends page, in which you'll see Stories coming through from the people you know and love IRL. When you swipe right, you'll access the new Discover page, which will feature Stories from publishers, creators, and the Snapchat community (note that the old Discover page presented news and entertainment content from publishers in a smaller horizontal scroll). Per Snapchat, your subscriptions will live at the top of that Discover feed, while other content that you might be interested in watching (but haven't committed to yet) will be slotted in at the bottom.
Additionally, to manage your own story, you'll no longer be able to do so by swiping right, since that's where the new Discover page is; instead, you'll be able to manage your story by swiping down on the camera page to get to your profile.
The other major development with this update is that the app will now become more dynamic in the way that it organizes your content. Over time, Snapchat will learn which of your Snapchat contacts are your "best friends" (at least within the context of this particular platform!) and list incoming content from those people near the top. Per the release, "We've all had the frustrating experience of scrolling endlessly through our Chats to find the right person — now your Friends will be listed in the order that you want to talk to them." The changes won't be immediate because it will take a while for the technology to determine your most-contacted pals, but soon enough, you'll see that you can cut way down on scrolling time.
There are a few other minor changes to the app that will come with the update, according to The Daily Mail, including the ability to manage your Story through your Profile page, automatic group Stories tied into Group Chats, and a more easily accessible Snap Map.