Reddit today announced a number of changes to its iOS and Android apps designed to make its mobile software a more interactive and social way of exploring the site. The biggest addition is a new user-to-user chat function, which Reddit has been testing for a few months, that’s now going to be part of the company’s mobile products in a public beta program.
Reddit is also adding a new theater mode for viewing images, videos, and GIFs from visual subreddits like r/pics more easily on mobile, as well as live comments and the addition of the iOS app’s speed reading button for Android users. In a bit of a gift to heavy mobile Redditors, the company is making it so the celebratory “cake day” icon, which lets other users know when you joined the site on the anniversary of that day, is visible on mobile and not just on desktop.
In addition to new features for users, Reddit is also adding new tools for community moderators. Those include a new “mod mode” that will make it easier for moderators to approve or remove content, a mobile version of Reddit’s desktop mod queue for handling content approvals and spam in bulk, and a mod management tool for adding new moderators on the fly to manage fast-growing subreddits.
These features, while relatively minor additions on their own, do combine to make a convincing argument that Reddit sees its mobile app as the future of the entire platform, where it hopes a majority of its users will migrate and where new users will inevitably sign up. It’s on mobile that the company can shed its anachronistic design, one it begrudgingly keeps around on the web to so as not to undermine or alienate the passionate community that creates and moderates its content.
Reddit for a long time ignored mobile, and the company only began taking the platform seriously in 2015 when co-founders Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian reassumed control of the company’s day-to-day management and product development efforts. Now, mobile is where a lot of the company’s attention is being paid, and the effort looks like it’s paying off with much-needed features arriving at long last.