Snap Maps is now famous for providing a lens into disasters and movements. But along with sharing those moments, Snapchat is doubling down on being a social network.
An update called Map Explore lets Snapchat users more easily see what their friends are up to, without any action required by the user. Your status might update itself based on where a your friends are and what Snapchat predicts you’re doing. And maps can populate your status when you appear to be taking a road trip, flying to a new destination, or using a particular geofilter, a Snap spokesperson told Mashable.
Think of it as Snap re-imagining the old AIM “away” status as literally showing where you are or what you’re doing.
The goal for Snapchat is to keep users engaged with the app based on being more connected to friends. A Snap spokesperson declined to share usage data around Snap Maps but says it has grown in recent months, granted Snap Maps was added to the web in February and can now be shared as links outside of Snapchat. The move comes as loyal Snapchat users and celebrities have criticized the app’s redesign in part for being confused to find stories from friends. For example, my roommate’s best friend on Snapchat is listed as the 45th person on her Friends page.
Now, if Snapchat users choose to share their location with each other, they will see a curation of updates. A button called “New Updates” lets users easily swipe horizontally through friends statuses and featured Snapchat Stories, such as breaking news or cultural events. Here’s what it looks like:
Beyond friends’ statuses and Our Stories, Snapchat users also can see their own updates on Map Explore. To do so, users can tap the Settings button on the top-right corner of the Map page. The current update will show as well as the friends who have seen it, similar to how users can see what friends have viewed their Story. Users can also delete their statuses via this page.
Here’s how personal updates look:
For Snapchat users who don’t want any of this in their lives, there’s Ghost Mode. Since Snap Maps was released in June 2017, location sharing has been opt-in. Users also can set their location to be viewed by all their friends or a specific set of people.
A user’s location only updates when the app is open, which means it isn’t a major battery drainer or data hog.
So, Kylie Jenner and other Snapchat fans, with this update, we now have another reason to keep Snapchat. If you hate sending texts that ask, “What are you up to?” the app now can often answer that question automatically. Whether that technical counts as “stalking” is up to you.