Twitter is testing a tweaked design for its iOS app. The company quietly rolled out a small update to the Twitter for iPhone app to a small number of users this evening. The update introduces a couple of changes, but they mostly have to do with the navigation.
The update replaces Search on the bottom navigation bar with Explore. Twitter has been upgrading the Explore experience on the network over the last 12 months or so, and it makes a lot of sense to keep pushing that to users. Twitter’s Explore tab has gotten significantly better than before, especially when it comes to surfacing content you are actually interested in. Along with the usual trends and what’s happening in the world, the Explore tab has recently gotten better at showing more of the things your network is about and showing popular tweets about topics you are interested in.
And thus, Twitter is replacing the old Search icon on the bottom navigation bar with a new Explore icon, identified by a hashtag. Twitter already has a dedicated Explore tab on its new desktop site, so the change is now coming to mobile devices, too.
The new hashtag icon will obviously confuse some users, due to the lack of the search icon. Twitter is addressing that problem simply by putting a dedicated search button next to the icon that lets you switch your content preferences at the top (switching between popular tweets and latest tweets). This new search button takes you directly to the search bar and doesn’t show any of the content from Explore. You can still, however, access the search bar from the new Explore tab — so yes, the new search icon is just there to stop people from wondering where the search button went.
I believe Twitter is rolling these new updates to a small group of users, though the majority of users don’t seem to have this new change. It’s possible the change is only a limited test for now, though. We have reached out to Twitter for more on this update.