Snapchat has just unveiled a new feature that encourages its users to get together in real-life instead of viewing each other's experiences through a screen.
Called Snap Map, the feature lets any user share their current location, which will then appear on friends' maps and will update accordingly when users open the app. The company has begun rolling the feature to iOS and Android users.
"We've built a whole new way to explore the world! See what's happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure!" announces Snap.
Clearly, Snap appears to be positioning Snap Map as a way to call up nearby friends and travel to wherever. Social media-focused apps encouraging users to share their location isn't new, but to actually convince them to go out is almost unheard of, so the way Snap appears to be marketing the feature is slightly refreshing.
Snap Map Was Based On Zenly, A Company It Reportedly Acquired
Snap actually based Snap Map off its secret acquisition of social map app Zenly for about $250 to $350 million, a deal that reportedly closed in late May. Zenly similarly lets users see where their friends are on the map at a given time, at which point they can send messages to each other to plan trips or hangouts.
How To Use Snap Map On Snapchat
Using the new Snap Map feature should be pretty straightforward. Simply open Snapchat and elect to share your location with either all friends, select ones, or not at all via Ghost Mode. A user's location won't be shared if they've stopped using the app for several hours. That said, location sharing will be turned off by default, and you may choose to turn it on at any time.
To access the Snap Map screen, you have to perform a pinch gesture — just like zooming in or out on a photo — on the Snapchat camera homescreen. The app will bring up a virtual map populated with icons, called Actionmoji, representing friends and their location. Tapping these icons will either show their Stories or give you the option to hit them up and make some traveling plans.
The app automatically picks Actionmojis for the user based on location, what day is it, or other metrics.
As one can imagine, the Snap Map also doubles as an alternative way to view people's Stories beyond the regular Stories feed and the Story Search feature. In the map, a user can see "heat" colors indicating that there are a lot of Stories being uploaded in that area, possibly because there's a concert, a major festival, or something along those lines.
The company says Snap Map focuses on enhancing connections between people and their closest friends. The way it's designed certainly suggest so, especially with the ability to view areas where there's a high upload traffic for Stories.
In addition, Snap Map could be a tool to help the app grow and rake in more revenue by convincing more people to watch Stories. Snap says, however, that it won't bring ads to Snap Map just yet. That said, ads will become a major component of the app moving forward, as the company's deal with Warner closes.
We're curious to know what you think of Snap's new Snap Map feature. Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!