If you fled Snapchat for Instagram Stories, a new feature might lure you back. Snapchat unveiled Snap Map, which is a global map showing you stories of people around the world and where your friends currently are. It’s one of the few updates in recent Snapchat history that make the app feel entirely new – and it has the potential to not just be a social tool, but a way for Snapchat to become a more meaningful part of the conversation around breaking news and events.
On the Snap Map, you’ll see Bitmoji, which Snapchat now calls Actionmoji, across the map. Who are these Actionmoji? They’re friends and family who are sharing their location with you. The Actionmoji might change depending on their location, time of day, and how fast they’re going. For example, if they’re in a car, you might see an Actionmoji of your friend driving. If you post a snap to the Our Story feature, your snap might be featured on the map for 24 hours.
Wary about sharing your location with all your Snapchat friends? The option is turned off by default (and called Ghost Mode), but you can turn it on and select certain friends to share your location with. Your location also only updates while the app is open. If the app isn’t open for a few hours, your Actionmoji will disappear. But, if you do see a friend’s Actionmoji on the map, you can tap on their icon to start a chat, as well as loop in other friends to begin a group chat.
You’ll also notice areas on the map that appear in red or soft blue. Those are places where people are snapping and submitting to the Our Story feature. It might be a popular tourist destination or something related to breaking news.
Snapchat’s focus on a map hopes to bring people together. “In a lot of ways, we’re taking what a map is and turning it upside down,” Jack Brody, a product designer at Snap, said to Refinery29. “This map isn’t about where am I, it’s about where are my friends and what are they up to? It’s not about figuring out how to get to your destination, but about discovering where you want to go.”
The update rolls out on June 21 on both iOS and Android. Ahead, see how Snap Map works and why you’ll want to use it ASAP.