The new Snap Map has a ‘ghost mode’ that lets you browse a map of your friends’ locations without sharing your own.
Bored Snapchat users looking for something to do should update their apps today: they’ll be greeted with a new map view that shows where exactly their friends are and what they’re up to.
Snap Map, as the company is calling it, can be activated by pinching your fingers together on the camera view when you first start the app. Once in map view, you’ll see “Actionmoji” versions of your nearby friends, which include their names and profile photos in a configuration that vaguely resembles the tags you might find on plants for sale at the nursery.
When you tap on one of your friends’ icons, you’ll see stories they’ve posted recently, which might get you in the mood to go join in the fun they’re having. You’ll only see your friends on the map if they’ve recently opened their Snapchat map and have shared their location with you. Conversely, you can decide who can see your location on their maps, choosing from all your friends or a customized list. You can also browse the map in “Ghost Mode” without broadcasting your location to anyone.
What if none of your friends are around or they haven’t posted anything interesting recently? Not to worry: the map view will also show a heat map based on the activity of other Snapchat users. For example, a map of San Francisco shows hot spots at Fisherman’s wharf and along Market Street. You can also zoom out to view events that Snapchat selects from around the country or the world, such a baseball game or current events like Tuesday’s special election in Georgia.
The Snap Map is Snapchat’s take on the location-based social media genre, which already includes startups like Zenly that are designed to let you keep track of nearby friends. And given Instagram’s propensity to successfully duplicate Snapchat features, it also wouldn’t be surprising if Instagram copies the map idea in the near future.