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Snapchat Unveils Redesigned App, Emphasizing Distinction Between ‘Social’ and ‘Media’ Content

Snap is angling to make Snapchat app easier to use — and to draw a brighter line between social interactions with friends and consumption of media and entertainment — with an overhauled version of the app.

On Wednesday, Snap provided a preview of the resigned Snapchat app, which is rolling out to a small number of users this week. The new app is more personalized, according to the company, and is intended to more clearly distinguish content from friends and content from media partners.

CEO Evan Spiegel announced plans for the Snapchat app redesign earlier this month on the company’s Q3 earnings call, after the company again missed Wall Street growth expectations.

The redesigned app is Snapchat’s biggest change since it introduced Discover, with content from media partners, in January 2015. In addition to the 70-some media partners like ESPN, NBC and Vice Media that Snap has deals with, the new app will be opening up to show content from individual creators.

The new Snapchat app still opens to the camera, but there are changes from there. From the camera screen, swipe to the left side to find a new, dynamic Friends page, with the friends you talk to the most.

To the right side of the camera is a redesigned Discover page with Stories from publishers, creators and the other users (Snap Map, Search, and Our Stories) that users find most interesting. The Discover section previously presented media content in a horizontal scroll; the new design provides a vertical, feed-like scroll with content at the top of the feed supposedly being the stuff that’s most relevant to a user.

In 2018, Snap will also be focusing on providing Snapchat creators better distribution — and monetization opportunities.

“It’s going to aid in the discovery of new content for people,” said Nick Bell, Snap’s VP of content, speaking at Business Insider’s Ignition media conference.

Snap wants to foster a creative community of creators on Snapchat, according to Bell, with the expectation that they’ll use the app’s camera, lenses and filters to create new content formats for the platform. About two-thirds of Snapchat’s users create content on a daily basis, he added.

Snap’s philosophy in pushing a strong separation of friend interactions and media content is driven by the belief that there’s a difference between “what’s popular and what’s important,” Bell said. Since the launch of Discover, “we’ve had very strong views on the value of content,” he added. “Authoritative and credible brands are key… What this redesign does is bring that to the forefront.”

Spiegel, in an op-ed piece on Axios ahead of the unveiling of the Snapchat redesign, criticized other social-media platforms for fueling the spread of “fake news” because “content designed to be shared by friends is not necessarily content designed to deliver accurate information.”

Snapchat is taking its cues from Netflix, according to Spiegel, to similarly use machine-learning algorithms to recommend content. “The Snapchat solution is to rely on algorithms based on your interests — not on the interests of ‘friends’ — and to make sure media companies also profit off the content they produce for our Discover platform,” Spiegel wrote. “We think this helps guard against fake news and mindless scrambles for friends or unworthy distractions.”

The redesign includes other changes as well, including: management of users’ own Stories will now take place on their Profile page; every Group Chat now automatically has its own optional Group Story; and the Map will make an appearance on the Discover page and in Search.

The update is being introduced first to a small portion of Snapchat’s user base later this week, with wider availability in the coming weeks.

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