The battle between Snapchat and Instagram Stories has been raging on for over a year now, and while Instagram has been dominating in almost every measurable capacity, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel isn’t letting his app go down without a fight.
Just last week, Spiegel and the rest of Snap, Inc., dropped its big announcement, indicating that it was planning some revolutionary changes to Snapchat’s design and introducing the platform’s very first algorithm.
Upon opening the app, a swipe right will bring users to friends’ Stories and Chats, while a swipe left will open the branded Discover content on the right side of the camera. Previously, Stories content lived on the same page as Discover channels.
The new interface separates pleasure from business—the social from the media—by segmenting a user’s friends from publishers, brands, and content creators.
The redesign also tidies up the app’s challenging navigational structure. Despite being first when it comes to “stories”-style content, Snapchat’s UX has always been among its worst qualities. By observing where Snapchat succeeded—and just as importantly, where it failed—Instagram was able to build a functional clone of Snapchat, while simplifying the user experience along the way.
Snapchat’s redesign is an attempt to win back the portion of its audience that may have fled to Instagram, while boosting daily usage and calling more attention to its newest features, including brand-friendly context cards and the Snap Map.
Snapchat will also join the other major social platforms by introducing a content algorithm. This new development will prioritize content from users and publishers as determined by what content the user engages with the most.
The platform is hoping that this will encourage users to become less accustomed to skipping content, upping the probability that they will encounter ads. With increased ad sales growth comes increased company value, resulting in a much-needed rise in Snap’s stock.
Or, at least, that’s the vision.
Snapchat’s redesign is refreshing. The app looks cleaner and will have the infrastructure to act and behave like its more established and sophisticated social media counterparts. But taking a step back, it’s hard not to wonder if it’s not too little, too late.
If Instagram’s aggressive offensive over the past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that anything Snapchat can do, IG can do better. With a proven track record for profit, the muscle of Zuckerberg’s empire behind it, and all the momentum in the world, Snapchat’s hard work might simply be paving the way for Instagram to do it better, yet again.