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Snapchat launches universal search to simplify navigation

Snapchat just made it much easier to navigate the app and find friends, groups, Discover publishers and Our Stories with a universal search bar that’s always accessible at the top of the app. Launching today for some people on Android and rolling out soon to all iOS and Android users, the search bar lets you dig out of Snapchat the best content and conversations.

The company tells TechCrunch the interface is designed for speed, so you can locate what you’re looking for and keep snapping. It might not be a coincidence that last year Snapchat was said to have acquired mobile search startup Vurb, which mysteriously shut itself down recently.

First and foremost, the visual style and “Quick Chat” suggestions will let you hop to a particular friend’s message thread or story a lot faster. Snapchat has been derided as confusing to some because of its unique layout and how it originally relied on users knowing how to swipe around. It only added navigation buttons in June 2016, but now users will be able to get around via search.

Improved search could be a huge boon to brands, businesses and influencers hoping to build their Snapchat audience. Previously, Snapchat only offered a fractured search interface, with boxes for finding specific conversations, accounts to follow and Stories or Discover channels scattered in three different places.


With universal search also comes new revenue opportunities. Snapchat could potentially let advertisers pay for sponsored placement atop search results, or as suggestions in the search interface. This could allow Snapchat to directly monetize the desire of brands to build an audience on its network. When asked if ads were coming to search, the company declined to comment on future plans. As Snap Inc. heads toward a 2017 IPO at an expected valuation around $25 billion, it needs to prove it has plenty of different ways it could earn more money in the future.

With the new search bar, you can jump to your own profile by tapping your Bitmoji on the left. If you tap a friend’s auto-suggest card or search result, you’ll start a chat with them, or you can tap their Story thumbnail to instantly start watching it full screen. Tapping and holding on someone’s card shows their mini profile. Beyond accounts, you can find specific daily editions of Discover channels or particular Our Stories by searching for their titles. You’ll also now be able to see in your profile your “best friends” that you Snap with often.