Snapchat has launched a new feature called ‘Snap Map’ that lets users share their current location along with their Snaps (or images) on a virtual world map. This location can be seen on a map by other friends and updates everytime the user opens the Snapchat application, the company announced on its blog

How does it work?

When a user opens Snapchat, they can choose share location feature, either with all or a select number of friends. Users can also go on Ghost Mode, through which their location is not shown on the map or the disappear from the map.  Once the user exits the application, his/her location is no more visible.

To use the Snap Map, users need to pinch onto the app  Snapchat camera on the home screen.  A user can scroll around on the map to get location details of all their friends.

There is an ActionMoji button which shows what each of the friends is currently doing at the location. This done by Snapchat itself based on what time , day and location.  

Acquisition of Zenly

Snapchat had acquired social map app Zenly in May. Zenly will continue to be run as a separate entity.The acquisition was made for $250 to $350 million in a cash and stock deal.  Zenly allowed users to locate on maps where their friends were. This could help people make instant plans based on which friend was nearby. Unlike Snap Map, Zenly is constantly updating a user’s location.

Other location sharing developments

Facebook messenger’s  live location sharing feature was launched in March this year.  Users can share their current location in real-time to Facebook friends using ‘Live Location’ feature which is integrated into the Messenger app as an icon. Clicking on it allows users to broadcast their location to friends for up to a maximum limit of 60 seconds.

-Facebook also has an optional feature called ‘Nearby Friends’  launched in 2014. The feature allowed users to track their friends by broadcasting accurate location. But due to public backlash, Facebook tweaked it to remove accurate location sharing; now the feature displays nearby friends in form of distance (Km).

Google Maps launched a feature that allowed users to share location in March this year. Users can swipe left on the app and select “Share location”. This generates a shareable link which can be sent to other users using text messages. The link can be viewed on any device—smartphones, PCs, desktops—although the original user can control who can view the link.

– WhatsApp also debuted the real-time location sharing in February. It was a beta feature. It had controls for limiting visibility and the time-duration for location sharing. WhatsApp already has static location sharing.

-On the Play Store, there are numerous location-sharing apps, mostly meant to keep a check on family and friends or to alert close friends when in trouble.