Change is the only the constant, especially when it comes to social media apps. But that doesn’t mean the changes are unique.
Instagram is testing out a full-screen feed feature that looks awfully similar to TikTok’s interface. And Snapchat is joining Twitter in adding a paid subscriber tier. Also, if Elon Musk gets his way, Twitter will start to look a whole lot more like TikTok too. It’s the constant news: all your favourite tech platforms are converging into one.
Instagram’s New Feed Feature
The new but not-so-new full-screen feed feature for Instagram is soon to be in testing, according to a Thursday Instagram stories post from Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, himself. He also announced testing for a navigation bar update, although that wasn’t pictured in the image Zuckerberg posted or promotional content from Instagram.
If you’re in the testing group, videos on the platform will take up nearly your entire screen as you scroll through (though the navigation bar will remain), according to a report from The Verge. Other icons for liking, commenting, or sharing and a video description will show up as overlaid on the video itself. Again, very similar to TikTok.
The navigation bar changes will include adding shortcuts for accessing messages and making a post, according to Tech Crunch.
If all of this sounds familiar to your, the déjà vu is warranted. Last month, Instagram tested out a similar full-ish screen video design, which faced lots of user backlash. Among other issues, the previous update attempt obscured captions and comments, and also tried to force all images into a 9:16 aspect ratio — even the app’s hallmark square photo posts.
And previously, the post or “compose” button was located in the bottom navigation bar. It was relocated to the top right corner in 2020.
As much as it seems like Instagram is scrambling to keep up with TikTok, Zuckerberg was also sure to try to pre-empt user criticism, with a reassurance that photos would remain an “important part” of the Meta-owned app. Meta has not yet responded to Gizmodo’s request for comment on the Instagram updates.
Snapchat, Paid Edition
However, Snapchat might not be doing so well financially, as its most recent attempt to maintain interest is also a dip into another monetisation stream for the platform.
Snapchat revealed it’s working on “Snapchat Plus,” a paid subscription version of the app, with a few more features. In an emailed statement to Gizmodo a company spokesperson said:
We’re doing early internal testing of Snapchat Plus, a new subscription service for Snapchatters. We’re excited about the potential to share exclusive, experimental, and pre-release features with our subscribers, and learn more about how we can best serve our community.
The initial leak of Snapchat Plus’s reported features fittingly came via a series of tweets from noted leaker Alessandro Paluzzi. Twitter launched its own paid user tier called “Twitter Blue” back in 2021. The details Paluzzi tweeted haven’t been confirmed by Snapchat, but he included some pretty convincing screenshots.
So… by subscribing to #Snapchat+ you can:— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) June 16, 2022
1️⃣ Pin a friend as a #1 BFF
2️⃣ Get access to exclusive Snapchat icons
3️⃣ Display a badge in your profile
4️⃣ See your orbit with BFF
5️⃣ See your Friend's whereabouts in the last 24 hours
6️⃣ See how many friends have rewatched your story
Snapchat reported missed revenue targets last year. The company blamed that downturn on an Apple iOS privacy feature that allows people to back out of ad tracking. So, it makes sense that the app would be seeking out other ways to make money from users, without the guarantee of being able to profit from user data.
According to screenshots posted by Paluzzi, Snapchat Plus users would pay $US4.80 ($7)/month or $US48.08 ($67)/year to access new features (although those may not be the final prices). The screenshots also hint at what the paid tier would be like. Some images indicate a new ability to “pin a friend as your #1 BFF,” and keep that conversation at the top of the app interface.
There’s also a profile badge for Plus subscribers, and “exclusive Snapchat icons,” according to the leak. The cherry on top of the whole thing: if you pay for Snapchat Plus, you’ll reportedly be able to “see your Friend’s whereabouts in the last 24 hours,” but only if they let you.