Discord is evolving. On October 17, the social platform unveiled a host of new features which aim to give users greater freedom to customize their online communities. Two standout additions are the App Directory, which allows users to seamlessly discover and add third-party apps to their servers, and Activities, which let users play simple games and watch videos together.
Founded back in 2015, Discord started out as a gaming-adjacent social platform. Like Amazon’s live-streaming platform, Twitch, the company is now looking to expand its reach beyond that core demographic, by adding more features to cultivate more of a social and collaborative experience.
More than 500,000 applications are currently compatible with Discord, ranging from visual customization suites, games, and enhanced safety features. But these add-ons haven’t been easy to find. The App Directory aims to solve that problem. Adding an app to a server is simple, type in a search term, and when something catches your eye, accept the terms of service and the widget will be added to your server. If you use Slack for work communications, it works pretty similarly — type a slash and then the name of the app to start using it.
During a media preview event last week, we had the chance to see some of these new features in action. The first of these was a text translation app, which works so quickly it calls to mind Star Trek’s hypothetical Universal Translator. Sure, it’s basically Google Translate, but eliminating a few extra steps by integrating it directly into Discord raises some really intriguing prospects for online community building that transcends geography and language.
Midjourney, an AI art-generating app which launched earlier this year, was another eye-opener. Faster and more satisfying than similar apps like Dall-E, the app allows you to see your images “develop” in real time, amid ongoing voice and text conversations.
A blog post detailing the new features notes that big-name retailers and service providers are getting in on the Discord integration game, too.
“Not sure where to start? Check out the new StockX DropBot for every drop in current culture. From sneakers and apparel to collectibles and electronics, you’ll be able to keep up with the latest releases, tap in with other collectors, score some heat with giveaways, and even test your industry knowledge with trivia challenges! Need suggestions on what to watch for movie night? Head over to the Hey, Netflix app to discover new shows and movies to watch and discuss together, across borders and without spoilers!”
In addition to these apps, Inverse tested out three Activities — a mini-golf game called Putt Party, the Pictionary-esque art game Sketch Heads, and Watch Together for simultaneous video streaming. Each of them was fun and simple to pick up and play, but Watch Together seems to have the broadest appeal and staying power. It’s all too easy to imagine hours passing by in a flash as you and your friends keep adding YouTube videos to a never-ending queue as you chat over them.
An expanded roster of activities will be available to the platform’s premium Nitro subscribers, but they’re able to share the perks with friends. Here are more details via the platform’s official blog:
“Starting this week, everyone will have access to begin two activities: Putt Party and Watch Together. Discord Nitro subscribers can launch even more activities including Poker Night, Sketch Heads, Chess, Land-io, Letter League and more. Once launched, they can invite their friends who don’t have Discord Nitro to join their expanded selection of Activities. It’s like being the cool friend who always brings over the best board games!”
You can download Discord for free for desktop and mobile devices here.