Reddit, the decade-old site full of conversations about everything under the sun, is finally growing up.

This week it launched its first--first!--mobile apps created by its own staff. It also announced an anti-harassment feature that allows users to block other users--that is, stop seeing any of their messages or posts. 

Alex Le, the site's new vice president of consumer product, announced the Android and iPhone apps on the site Thursday. It is simply called Reddit. It will replace the previous best way to view Reddit on a smartphone, an app called Alien Blue, which is being retired. 

The content of the app will feel familiar to any Redditor--but its design will not. Reddit the website, which was created by Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman in 2005 as the "Front Page of the Internet," stubbornly clings to its early-Web 2.0 look and feel, complete with awkward line spacings and Verdana font throughout. But Reddit the app is slick and photo-heavy, with super-fast scrolling and easy navigation, thanks to subtle icons that appear at the bottom of the phone's screen. 

Separately, Chris Slowe, who was Reddit's first employee in 2005 when he was a Harvard grad student in physics, and who recently returned to the company, announced the blocking feature in a post Wednesday. It's a significant step forward in the company's broader recent efforts to address abuse on the site. Reddit has also recently bolstered the sites' administrators' abilities to silence problem users and spammers.

Reddit has come under scrutiny for bad behavior by some of its anonymous users, particularly since 2014 when a trove of naked celebrity photos hacked from their iPhones appeared on r/thefappening. The company has since been cracking down on revenge porn, hate speech, racist, and other odious content by blocking and shadowbanning problem users.

"Our changes to user blocking are intended to let you decide what your boundaries are, and to give you the option to choose what you want--or don't want--to be exposed to," Slowe wrote in his post.

Since Steve Huffman returned to Reddit as chief executive last July, he said one of his goals would be strengthening Reddit's mobile presence--although it wasn't immediately clear whether that would entail updating Alien Blue, an unofficial-but-popular Reddit app that Reddit acquired in 2014. 

Five months ago, Huffman hired Le, directing him with building an Android app while stabilizing Alien Blue. But he wrote that working on Alien Blue quickly morphed into a "much larger effort."

"We've decided to rebuild our iPhone app from the ground up to be faster, more modern, and more usable," Le wrote today on Reddit.

Here's a video of Huffman and the team explaining the new app's creation:

Published on: Apr 7, 2016