Digital Dash: Snapchat’s makeover & more

1. Snapchat gets mega facelift, users love what they see
Actually, this goes way beyond a facelift. Snapchat is flipping the script on its entire approach.

Just yesterday, it announced some massive changes to both its user interface (UI) and the way in which it organises and delivers content – and it’s done it all with users in mind.

Here’s a rundown of what’s new:

Friends tab: will appear on the left of the screen and include Stories and private messages but only from people you follow (provided they follow you back)

Discover tab: will now appear on the right hand side and include content from professional creators, aggregated Stories from hotspots on Snap Map, Our Stories and aggregations from Snapchat Search. Take note that anyone you follow but who doesn’t follow you back will get relegated to the Discover tab.

Snapchat_new Discover

Algorithm: this is a big one – Stories will no longer be shown in reverse chronological order but instead be displayed based on whose content you engage with the most

Open screen: quick links to every app screen will now appear on the camera screen

Snapchat_new profile page

Profile: it will now be easier than ever to manage and check viewership of your Stories, public Our Stories and custom group Stories

Snap Map: now much easier to access, opening alongside the Search bar

Group chats: every group chat now gets its own Group Story

Story previews: you get the chance to quickly choose if you’re interested in watching the next Story or not

“See Less”: you can influence the algorithm by asking to “see less” of influencers’ stuff

Human editorial and moderation team: will ensure quality of content and weed out fake news

While users’ enjoyment, and getting one over on Instagram, are the main motivations behind the makeover, it may well also help advertisers. With Stories much more likely to be of interest, there’ll be less skipping, meaning ads will stand a better chance of being watched.

If this epic news bite hasn’t satisfied your appetite, here’s more:


2. The wait is over for an app that tracks all your deliveries at once – all hail Shopify’s Arrive
If I asked you if you minded someone tapping into your emails and reading the content, you probably wouldn’t like it. This however, might be the exception; especially at this time of year.

Arrive is a free new iOS app from Shopify. It spies on your email but for the best possible reason – to find all your e-receipts (it’s already doing better than me), group them all together, and display their journey via a live map.

You can also set up push notifications to contact carriers if needed.

While the app does need access to your emails, it guarantees that it won’t use your data for marketing purposes, only to improve the in-app experience. The same can’t be said for Arrive’s competitors. And with privacy such an important user concern, this might just secure the competitive edge the new app needs.

All the major delivery companies have signed up, including UPS, USPS, FedEx, DHL, Canada Post and Amazon.


3. YouTube’s new Reels feature is Stories but better
Stories just don’t feel like a natural fit for some platforms (looking at you, Facebook). But with others, you wonder why they haven’t jumped on board with on-the-fly content sooner.

YouTube seems like the perfect candidate for a Stories equivalent, with uploading full videos being a fairly time-consuming and quality-reliant task.

Clearly YouTube agree, as this week it announced the launch of Reels – a slideshow of short mobile videos of up to 30 seconds each, which can be decorated with filters, music, text, stickers and more.


While Reels may look and feel like Stories, there’s a key difference. And it’s not just that YouTube had the decency to come up with its own name…

This is the USP: unlike other Stories versions, Reels don’t expire.

Also, rather than shoehorn the new feature into the main app experience, Reels will take up residence in a separate tab for now. However, if you engage with the new video format, it’s possible they’ll start appearing in your homepage recommendations.


4. Four spotted-in-the-wild Instagram tests, one of which we’ve all been waiting for
Last week, I bombarded you with Facebook updates, many of which were in testing. This week, all the rumours revolve around Instagram.

Here are 5 tests that might be coming to an app near you soon:

1) ‘Regram’: The Next Web’s Matt Navarra spotted an icon which may well be a regram feature, which will let you officially share posts from other users


2) GIF search: to add animated GIFs to Stories

3) Story archive: what was that about YouTube’s Reels having a USP… ?

4) ‘Share to WhatsApp’ feature: will enable you to share posts or profiles with friends on WhatsApp


5. Facebook tests ‘Messenger Broadcast’ feature
Facebook has confirmed that it’s testing a feature called ‘Messenger Broadcast’ – which will enable businesses to send marketing messages to users on mass.

As you can see below, it looks like you’ll be able to design a welcome message, title and subtitle, and automatic reply.

Facebook_Messenger Broadcast

So is this a new ad unit? Not quite.

As reported by Techcrunch, Facebook says that a certain number of users will receive the messages at no cost. It’s possible (read: very likely) that businesses will then be able to pay for additional reach.

Facebook also confirmed that it has no plans to change its policy of only allowing businesses to contact people via Messenger if the user has previously initiated a chat.

So in order for you to get the most out of Messenger Broadcast, you may need to run a campaign beforehand to encourage users to message and ensure your audience size is large enough.