Earlier this month, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel announced plans to redesign Snapchat in order to make it easier to use, and the news was met with a mixed reaction from its fans and detractors.
Some wanted no changes at all and wanted the company to preserve its quirky exclusivity. Others thought it was too hard for many people to use, which hindered mainstream growth — a major issue with Wall Street.
Now that it’s here, it appears as though both sides got a little of what they wanted with a cleaned-up look and a simpler interface, as well as an app that basically operates in a familiar way.
Unless you use Snapchat regularly, it may not look dramatically different, because most of Snapchat’s functionality — how to take and send a Snap, for example, or how to find friends — didn’t change.
But the new app also offers a few key changes, including the elimination of the Stories page and the return of auto-advance for stories created by users. Most importantly, Snap is now drawing a strict delineation between the personal use of the service (how you communicate with friends) and the entertainment use of the service (how you interact with media).
To break it down more specifically, here’s a look at some of the main updates.
Change: Snapchat is getting rid of the Stories Page entirely.
How this works: While the app will still open into the camera — which is still the center of the action to encourage users to create something — all private messages and user stories will now exist together on a “Friends” screen when you swipe right off the camera. Discover content, which includes shows, Publisher Stories and popular user Stories, are located at the other side of the camera when you swipe left.
Why this matters: Snap is trying to explicitly differentiate between your personal content and communications (friends) and professional media content (Discover), so it’s separating them entirely. Previously, Stories and some professional content existed together on the now-defunct Stories page.
It’ll be interesting to see if the move helps or hurts publishers. The good news is that publishers’ content is now one swipe closer to Snapchat’s home screen, which means it should be easier to find. The (potentially) bad news is that it’s unclear how much of that publisher content users watched because it was interspersed with posts from their friends. It’s possible users could go to the screen full of content from friends and just ignore the Discover page altogether.
Change: Snap is bringing back auto-advance on user Stories. Kinda.
How this works: When you watch a friend’s Story, it will now ask you if you want to watch the next story in the queue. With a tap, the next story will play. Snap used to jump users from one story to the next automatically, but abruptly changed that last October. Now, it’s back.
Why this matters: Auto-playing one story to the next, even if it does require a one-tap approval, should theoretically increase the number of Stories people watch. Think of it like Netflix: When the next episode is queued up for you to automatically watch as soon as you finish the previous one, it keeps you watching longer.
Change: Snapchat is using more algorithms to personalize what you see.
How this works: While this is invisible to most users, much of what you see on Snapchat will now be determined by an algorithm. And now a new algorithm is here to determine which friends show up on the top of your Friends page. “Your Friends will be listed in the order that you want to talk to them,” the company wrote on its blog.
Snap will also use a new algorithm to show you stuff in your Discover feed. While that content has always been personalized, Snap claims these new algorithms are significantly better than what it used before. For now, we’ll have to take their word for it, because — much like Facebook’s algorithm that dictates what you see in News Feed — Snapchat’s new algorithm is mostly a mystery. It appears as though Snap will rely on users’ feedback to determine what they like and what they don’t like.
Did you click on a post and share it to a friend? Or did you hide it from your feed? Those actions should help dictate what you see next and — just as important — what you don’t.
Why this matters: If Snap can better figure out what you want to see, it’s reasonable to believe you’ll spend more time using the app. A better algorithm means more time spent, more ads from Snapchat and, thus, more revenue.
Change: Snap is putting more and varied content inside Discover.
How this works: In addition to the traditional publisher content you find inside Discover, such as mini-shows or the magazine-like Publisher Stories, Snap will now put popular events inside Discover that you can find from the company’s maps product. It’s also going to put popular Stories inside Discover, including those that aren’t from a famous celebrity. Any public Story that reaches a certain viewership threshold could appear in Discover after a manual review from a Snap employee.
It’s unclear what that threshold is, since the company is not giving details on that, but it should theoretically help popular creators with big audiences get their work in front of more users. That’s because you could see a Story on the Discover page from a user you don’t follow, which means you might be exposed to users you didn’t know existed.
Why this matters: More content in Discover means more things for you to spend time watching. Plus, given Snapchat’s new algorithm, the more content the company has to work with, the more tailored it can be for each user. It could also be bad news for publishers, because more content inside Discover means more competition for time and attention.
One thing that’s not changing is Snapchat’s ads. Ads will still run in the same places they’ve always run, with the exception of the company’s new Promoted Stories ad, which just came out last week. That ad currently exists on the Stories page, but because the Stories page is disappearing, that ad will now appear on the Discover page.
The new version of the app will start rolling out to a small group of Snapchat users this week, and will reach all of Snap’s users worldwide in the coming weeks, the company said.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.