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Tumblr cleans up its interface in an attempt to entice longform writers

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The blogging platform ups its interactive features

Tumblr has begun rolling out new features to make its editor more appealing to longform writers. Over the past two days, the company has announced a new lineup of tools meant to make its interface both simpler to use and nicer to look at.

Most notable among the updates is the inclusion of a new tool bar that pops up in the editing screen whenever a phrase is highlighted. See below:

As TechCrunch points out, this formatting bar is similar to the one used on Medium, the publishing platform created by two of Twitter's co-founders. Tumblr's fluttering toolbar is more distracting than Medium's static ones, but it fits Tumblr's more informal aesthetic.

Medium isn't quite Tumblr's competitor by the numbers: Medium reported 165 million active users in 2014 while Tumblr reported 420 million. But Medium blurs the line between blogging platform and publisher. Its interface relies heavily on white space, making it an obvious aesthetic choice for longform reads. And Medium boasts several sponsored publications, like its travel site Gone and its business and tech site Backchannel. Lengthy writing on Tumblr tends to get bogged down in colors and its users' homemade themes.

Another addition to Tumblr's interface is a plus sign that pops up when a writer begins a new line (shown in GIF below). The spinning widget allows users to add photos, GIFs, and videos to posts without moving to the editor's top toolbar. Users will also be able to see what the published post will look like directly from the dashboard.

The company has also made minor updates to its Android and iOS apps. Not all Tumblr bloggers will notice the changes just yet — the company is rolling out the updates over the next two days.