As it faces increased competition from Instagram Stories and an impending IPO, Snapchat has made a dramatic update to its app today in the form of a universal search bar and other shortcut features. The search bar will always be accessible at the top of the app, Techcrunch reports, and will enable users to find friends, groups, Discover publishers, and even Snapchat’s own curated Our Stories around special locales and events.
The features begin rolling out today on Android and will soon arrive on all iOS devices as well.
Snapchat, which has often been called difficult to navigate for older users, says that it added the new search functionalities for speed and ease. It is possible that the search bar could eventually serve as a space for ads, Techcrunch notes, though Snapchat declined to comment on any plans as such. You can check out the new features in action right here:
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The search features enable users to jump to their own profiles by tapping on their Bitmojis — or a ghost icon if no Bitmoji has been linked (Snapchat acquired Bitmoji parent company Bitstrips last March for $100 million). Beneath the search bar, there is also a Quick Chat section whereby users can tap on their friends’ Bitmojis, which will take them to accompanying chat windows and Stories. Users can also search for Discover channels or Our Stories by title.
That said, while the new search features serve to help people find friends that are already using Snapchat, they will not allow users to search for new accounts to follow, Techcrunch reports, which is one of the major gripes about Snapchat. As of now, following new accounts is a somewhat complicated process that involves adding new users by name, by phone contacts, or by Snapping a QR code of sorts called a Snapcode.