Since my high school days, I have been a pretty loyal user of Snapchat. Since it came out in September 2011, the app has evolved a lot, and this post is inspired by Snapchat’s recent update and the nature of change in the apps that we use.
I’m a fan of Snapchat because it keeps me in touch with friends that I don’t see often in person, even if we go to the same college. When I started using Snapchat, I remember that people could see each other’s top best friends and there was a continuous race to be someone’s best friends on Snapchat. In this sense, now the app is more private and only allows you to see who your own best friends are. On the other hand, there are other updates that I will talk about later that promote the opposite of privacy.
I started off using snapchat very rarely and I have to admit I’m not great at Snapchat because I am the type of person that will leave snaps on ‘open’ and not respond because there is nothing to respond sometimes! (Some people get really annoyed at this apparently… oops)
Ever since the Snap streak started my sophomore year of college, the snapchat experience has changed forever. I used to love Snapchat because whenever there was something interesting to send to my friends, I would do it. Now, the streak is what keeps us going back to the app on a daily basis. And for me, it has lost part of its value because now it’s just a number that we want to see increase.
The exciting thing about receiving snaps (in my opinion) is that you don’t always know what you are going to see. But now, a lot of the snapchats that I get just say ‘Streak’, which defeats Snapchat’s original purpose. In addition, there used to be a limit of 10 seconds on each snap, which was cool because they were ephemeral. Now, you can select ‘infinite seconds’ as an option, which means that you can see as long as you want. Snapchat has moved to make things permanent because the fact that snaps and chats disappeared wasn’t appealing for users who want to store conversations and pictures.
Over the years, Snapchat has added a lot of functionalities. Some of these updates help people ‘stalk’ other people and see where they are, whereas some of them are designed to enhance the user’s experience, such as the filters and the Bitmoji. Some of these updates are:
- Ability to chat with people and save the conversation if you want to.
- upload content that everyone in your Snapchat can see for 24 hours. Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp also offer this feature but only Instagram and Snapchat have succeeded.
- you can use them to show your location on your snaps and snap stories.
- they vary a lot but they change the way you look on your snapchat.
- Snapchat partnered with the Bitmoji app so users can use their avatar in the app.
- Snapchat friend map:
- allows to see where people in your Snapchat are. I wasn’t aware that this was a feature until one of my friends told me. You can change settings to be on ‘ghost mode’ so people can’t track you.
But now…. how about some thoughts on Snapchat’s recent update??
Some of my friends got the update before I did and they complained about it. I thought: what could be so bad about it?
A day later, my phone updated the app and the interface really threw me off. My longest streak (196 days!) sent me a snapchat saying: “We are going to lose the streak because of this update”.
Snapchat’s previous user interface was very easy to use and it made sense because the feed was in the order of the snaps that were received last. The latest update causes frustration because:
#1 Some people who I snap regularly get pushed down and other people that I never snap are at the top of my feed
#2 Snap feed and stories are on the same page
#3 The streak number is notably smaller, therefore making it harder to see when the streak is ‘dying’ (hence my friend’s concern about losing our hard-earned streak).
For non-Snapchat users: the image on the left illustrates the old version and the image on the right illustrates the new version.
I don’t think that people are going to stop using Snapchat because of this update because everyone that has a long Snap streak (like me) is too invested in the app to stop using it. (You got us there, Snapchat!)
However, that doesn’t mean that we are happy with the change. There was even one user who was so upset by the change that he contacted Snapchat to see what could be done. Desperate times call desperate measures, am I right??
He got 1.4 million retweets on Twitter and nothing has been done… and will it be done?
I doubt it because updates are expensive and take a lot of time to develop.
I feel like nowadays we get too used to a type of interface that when it gets changed drastically, we get frustrated. Something similar happened when Apple released IOS 7 (or 8?). Everyone was very confused by the new layout and the bright colors but after a few weeks we all got used to it and now we don’t even think twice about it.
I think it’s important to realize that apps need to updated from time to time in order to keep things interesting and also attract more users with innovative features. Why are we so reluctant to accept change, even if these updates will add more value to our app experience in the long run?