Twitter’s central Moments tab, which once terrorized obsessive-compulsive users with a blue dot that never went away, is going away. The company said today that the tab, which highlights collections of notable tweets curated by Twitter editors, would be replaced by a new tab called Explore. Moments will still be featured in the new tab, but they’ll be de-emphasized in favor of trending topics and search. Explore was first spotted in testing in October.
Explore brings together trends, Moments, and search in a manner that closely resembles Instagram’s Explore tab. (As on Instagram, it is represented by a magnifying glass icon.) It can also display newsworthy live videos at the top of the feed. Previously, Twitter search had its own button next to the tweet composer, and trends appeared in a list underneath the search bar when you tapped it.
The move represents an effort to bring Twitter’s far-flung content discovery efforts together in a single tab. “Nothing is going away,” the company said in a blog post. “We’re just making it easier to find what you want.” Still, it suggests a demotion for Moments, which launched with a splashy marketing campaign in October 2015 but failed to attract the legions of new and lapsed users that executives had hoped for.
An acknowledgement of Moments’ limitations
Twitter has always hosted lots of newsworthy exchanges, viral photos, comedy, and celebrity antics, but it has never known quite how to deliver them to users who weren’t following the relevant accounts. Until 2015, the app had a “Discover” tab, a polarizing feature that attempted to surface tweets popular among the people you follow. Twitter replaced it with “while you were away” recap boxes and the addition of editorial descriptions to many trends.
The new Explore tab looks fine, but it’s easy to imagine how it could be improved. Why can’t I see the top links shared among the people I follow, the way I can in Nuzzel? Why can’t I see the most-retweeted tweets of the day? Why are there still dozens of Moments for me to sort through instead of a module of the day’s top two or three memes? (Moments was designed to attract casual users, but it produces a volume of stories each day that can be tedious to wade through.)
The truth is that most people aren’t using Twitter to “explore” — they’re using it to catch up on the news. A tab that let you see the day’s most important tweets at a glance would be a glorious thing. I’d love to see Twitter attempt a design that reflected the way people actually use it, rather than pine for a user base that browses it the way they browse Instagram.
Explore is rolling out on Twitter for iOS and coming to Android “in coming weeks,” the company said.