New developments at Duolingo
It seems like lots of attention is being given by Duolingo to add awards, skill points, badges, and other meaningless bells and whistles, but very little attention is being given to making the actual language lessons any better or more extensive. I would much rather that they add another suite of lessons or grammar drills or anything that actually pertains to learning a language. All the points, gems, badges, streaks, and other game-like parts are lame and a waste. They need to improve the learning tools, especially if they want us to pay money for it.
The courses aren't handled by Duolingo specifically, but by course contributors. Sure Duo is responsible, but features being added sitewide are going to be a different sport than adding features in language. Also, the bells and whistles draws attention, which means more ad revenue and more possible premium subscribers. This means you still get to learn for free, even when they are growing. Any positive change is a good thing, even if it seems like it's not.
I understand, but attention doesn't help if when people get here they find a poor product covered in bells and whistles. Some language courses are barely being maintained anymore, some are buggy, and some are just inadequate. If Duolingo were to create better incentives for course contributors and the courses grew and improved over time I should think that would mean more use, more ad revenue, and certainly be a better value to attract premium subscribers.
My apologies if some courses are getting better treatment than others. My experience is primarily using the Italian for English Speakers and English for Italian Speakers programs (the latter of which is very buggy.) There have been no improvements or additions to these courses for many months and it doesn't seem they are even being maintained. Some incorrect answers have been flagged hundreds of times by users with no response.
They are doing both, actually.
They have developed "Stories" in four different languages now. Those stories are more difficult than the normal skill tree.
They also have developed bots, which allows you to practice your conversational skills without the awkwardness of making a fool of yourself in front of strangers.
There are bonus skills in some languages, which adds to the content of the basic tree.
And there are clubs, which are getting better all the time. They now have activities that pop up randomly asking you to describe a scene or caption an image. You can also help your fellow club members and ask them for help with something that's giving you trouble.
They're also testing other stuff that is not available to us, or may only be available to some people while the idea is being A/B tested.