As you may remember, Reddit has never had it’s own official app. Third party apps are widespread on the iOS and Google Play stores, and in 2014, Reddit acquired one of the most popular apps, Alien Blue. This became the ‘official’ Reddit app until now, as Reddit have finally released their own, first party app for their users.
So, why now? Alex Le, Reddit’s vice president of consumer product, explained that it came about after the company examined how their readers accessed the site. He said that 50% of their users were reading on mobile, and many were searching the app stores for an app called ‘Reddit’. After asking users what could improve their mobile experience, the company decided that instead of making improvements to their existing app, it would be better to make their own from scratch.
Their decision appears to have paid off, as the Reddit app has so far been a roaring success in terms of usage. The day after it’s release, it reached the top of the iOS charts, beating out Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. Downloads have probably been helped by the fact that Reddit offered it’s Alien Blue Pro users free 4 year Reddit Gold subscriptions.
Feedback so far has been mostly positive, with most saying that they’re enjoying the new features, such as the ‘speed read’ feature that lets you skip through a thread to find the highlights, and a night mode, which changes the display colours to reduce glare while reading late at night. Tech Times collects some of the early adopters comments, who say that the design is clean and easy to use, although there are many bugs and small issues that need to be addressed in future updates.
Even with this positive feedback, it still seems rather strange that Reddit would pour so much effort into a brand new app, when Alien Blue was still a popular and serviceable app for the company. With so many users on mobile, it makes sense that Reddit will want to capitalise on this, and set up ad revenue streams through an app they can control.
This app comes at a time when Reddit is looking to become more user friendly and safe, following the revelation of the abuse that occurs on the site after chief executive Ellen Pao resigned. In light of this, Reddit have implemented stronger blocking tools, allowing users to block individual users if they feel harassed or threatened by them. This, as well as the new app, is clearly aimed at making Reddit much more accessible and safer space for everyone who uses it. Only time will tell if uses stay with the Reddit app or gravitate back to Alien Blue, although the implementation of new and improved features on the Reddit app will affect this.