Snapchat’s newest feature encourages users of the popular messaging app to meet up with their friends in real life after sharing their current location with friends.
The new feature, called Snap Map, debuted on Wednesday for all iOS and Android app users around the world. When users choose to share their location—either with all of their contacts, or just a few select friends—an “Actionmoji” avatar representing each user will appear on a map showing those specified contacts where they are at that moment. Users can zoom in and out on the map to see where their friends are and what photos and videos they’re sharing from that location.
“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!” Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. wrote in a blog post announcing the new feature.
Snap said each user’s Actionmoji will only update its location on the Snap Map when users open the app. The location sharing feature is turned off in its default mode, and users can also go into “Ghost Mode” at any time to drop off the map.
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Snapchat is introducing the Snap Map feature at a time when the app continues to battle rivals Facebook and Instagram for social media users. On Tuesday, shares of parent company Snap dipped slightly following the news that Instagram Stories now tops 250 million daily active users, easily outpacing the 166 million daily users that Snapchat reported last month. Instagram Stories, along with a similar feature for Facebook (which owns Instagram), are features that were meant to essentially copy Snapchat’s formula for success. Facebook and Instagram have basically imitated Snapchat with several other features, as well, with Instagram’s CEO more or less admitting that strategy last year.
Amid that fierce rivalry, Snapchat is under pressure to keep rolling out popular new features to help it compete for users. That being said, Snap Map actually follows Facebook’s introduction, in March, of its own location-sharing feature for the Facebook Messenger app. Called Live Location, the Facebook Messenger feature allows users to share their location for an hour with individual contacts or groups of friends. (Apple and Google also both have location-sharing features for their respective map apps.)