Snapchat seems to be gearing up to more directly challenge TikTok. The company confirmed that it is testing a new experience that allows users to move through Snapchat’s public content with a vertical swiping motion a gesture that’s been popularized by TikTok. This feature allows users to easily advance between videos. Snapchat says the feature is one of its experiments in exploring different, immersive visual formats for community content.
The test is focused on content that’s published publicly to Snapchat Discover, not your friends’ private Stories. But because Stories can have multiple parts, users will still tap to advance through the Story, as before. But in the new experiment, a horizontal swiping motion will exit the experience, instead of moving you between Stories, as before.
Snapchat declined to offer specific details about the test, beyond clarifying it’s in the early stages and only viewable by a very small percentage of its user base. A spokesperson told TechCrunch, “We’re always experimenting with new ways to bring immersive and engaging content to our mobile-first Snapchat community.”
The timing of Snap’s test is also quite interesting. The Trump administration is currently threatening to ban TikTok in the U.S. due to the app’s ties to China and fears that Americans’ private user data will end up in the hands of China’s Communist Party. The app has already been banned in India for similar reasons. A few days earlier, Amazon instructed its employees to remove the app from their company-issued smartphones, before retracting that demand around five hours later.
Amid the threat of TikTok’s removal, rival social apps have climbed the app store charts, including Byte, Likee, Triller, and Dubsmash. Instagram, meanwhile, has been expanding its TikTok-like feature, Reels, to new markets. Even YouTube began testing a TikTok-like experience in recent days. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Snapchat would want to do the same among its user base, as well, given that the TikTok U.S. audience could be soon up for grabs.