The new bar creates a section on each “Stumbled” page that highlights a user who also liked the page. If someone who you follow on StumbleUpon liked the page, his or her avatar might show up there. If not, now might be the point when StumbleUpon introduces you to someone new who you’d like to follow. You can click through to his or her StumbleUpon profile to see whether this is the case.
“We do a good job of connecting people algorithmically who might never meet in the real world,” says StumbleUpon VP of Business Development Marc Leibowitz. But, he says, the company has received a lot of feedback from users who also want to see what their friends are liking. The new feature is a response to that feedback, and one that could expand to include more than one featured “liker” or extend to other StumbleUpon platforms.
Though the only new functionality, the social bar is just one small tweak in a completely revamped user interface for the app. Photo thumbnails for your interests and the people who you are following have replaced a “recommended for you” list. Quick links to photos, videos and news have replaced a long sidebar of categories. And you can now swipe to stumble instead of hitting the button, which is not an easy feat considering the data involved in the personal recommendation process.
It makes sense that StumbleUpon is investing in its mobile apps — like most web companies, mobile is its fastest growing area.
The company launched its first iPad App, which was also its first mobile product, back in April 2010. Shortly later, it launched iPhone and Android apps.
Today stumbles on the three platforms combined are growing about 35% month over month and account for about 10% of the stumbles that StumbleUpon’s more than 15 million users make every month.
Leibowitz hints that the company might also be looking for mobile stumblers on new platforms in the future.
“It’s not inconceivable that we would do this with other tablet devices,” he says.