Discord has been really busy as of late. A ton of under the hood changes as well as more prominent visual tweaks have already been released during January, and they don’t seem to want to stop. Today, users of Discord’s Canary version were greeted with a bunch of new features, mostly quality of life improvements and updates to the user interface. And a surprising feature removal.
Just a couple of days ago, Discord rolled out a big update that introduced a text formatting toolbar, and a few days earlier, released the first preview of their new message quoting feature. Today we get even more new stuff – including a surprising change that appears to be a shift in their product strategy.
New Discord features
No more Activity tab, no more Library
Today’s update brings in a couple of new features, most of which are only available in the Canary (dev/alpha) build for now. Except for one, and that’s a pretty surprising one. Discord’s Activity tab, which has only been rolled out last year with a lot of fanfare, has almost entirely vanished. It is now tucked away in a sidebar inside the Friends tab.
Furthermore, Discord announced that it will be removing the Game Library tab as well. It’s still visible at this point though.
The Friends tab itself received an update as well, giving you shortcuts for quickly sending a new DM and making voice/video calls.
This was rolled out across the board, throughout the stable version, PTB and Canary builds. I am wondering what Discord is up to here and why they seemingly shift their product strategy. Not too long ago, Discord wanted to be your one-stop game hub, with a built-in game launcher and a dashboard that shows news about the games you play. It looks like they are back paddling now. The new activity feed is almost hidden away and has been reduced to just showing what your friends are currently playing. No more news, no more patch notes, nothing.
This is not the only drastic change though. Just a few months ago, Discord put an end to their ambitious game store, something they pushed out as being an alternative to the likes of Steam and the Epic Store. Gone, too.
Discord has talked about some of these changes on their blog yesterday. Follow this link to find out more.
Putting that aside, let’s talk about the other new features that were introduced today.
Compact and modernized message display
According to one Discord developer on their official Discord Testers server, they refactored (basically, rewrote) the entire message display component. Lots of foundational changes that lead to a more compact and denser display of message groups, which can be tweaked through a new setting.
Along with that as well, there are a few other tweaks like highlighting of messages as you move your mouse pointer over them.
Mark messages as unread; new indicator for new messages
Discord now allows you to mark selected messages as unread, which will place an unread marker above that message. That indicator is the same that you are used to when entering an unread channel, with the only differences being that you can manually set it (as a reminder, I guess) and a slightly updated visual appearance.
Quick Action Toolbar
Last, but certainly not least, there is a new quick action toolbar, giving you fast access to commonly used features like picking emote-reactions. It also includes a little submenu for more options like message quoting and marking messages unread. The action toolbar appears when hovering your mouse pointer over messages. It looks a bit obtrusive, but given that this is the first shot and still in testing, we’ll probably see more refinements later on.
Discord’s new features – Video
Here is a little video, showing some of the new features in action:
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