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How To Use the Snap Maps in Snapchat

How To Use the Snap Maps in Snapchat

Snap Maps are a recent addition to Snapchat, having been introduced in summer 2017. The new feature uses mapping technology to let you see what your friends are up to and see who else is around in your area. It seems a decent feature upgrade but will have obvious downsides. If you want to use the Snap Map in Snapchat, it isn’t quite as easy as it could be.

Snapchat says that use growth is linked to its feature growth so the more features the platform adds, the more users it gets. While this is all very well the requirement for quality must always override that of quantity just to get users. Fortunately Snap Maps seems decent.

Snap Maps in Snapchat

Snap Maps leverages map data for San Francisco startup MapBox and produces a good quality map that will feature small icons called Actionmoji where your friends are currently Snapchatting or where they last were on Snapchat. Other users who enable the Snap Maps in Snapchat will also appear.

Actionmoji change to reflect what people are up to at the time and are the coolest part of the app. Snapchat tries to interpret what you are doing at the time and represent it as an icon. For example, if it sees you’re by the beach it will show a sunbathing emoji. If it thinks you’re at the airport or mall, it will show a trolley pushing emoji.

The new feature hasn’t receive universal appreciation, which I’ll cover in a minute. First, let us look at how to use Snap Maps.

Use the Snap Maps in Snapchat

Despite being a shiny new feature, it isn’t that easy to find Snap Maps. To access it you have to pinch to zoom while in the Snapchat camera app. Initially you will be prompted to configure your user preferences and then who you want to allow to see your location.

Once done you will be presented with a map of your area with Actionmoji icons of those people who have also enabled Snap Maps. Tap an icon to see what that person is doing or sharing.

Snap Maps use heat maps too. Where you see a traditional green to red area on the map, this denotes where lots of Snapchat users are using Snap Maps at once. This can denote an event or something where lots of people are gathered for one reason or another.

You can use the map by moving it with your fingers to navigate. Tap an icon to see what that user is sharing. There is also a search function you can use at the top of the screen for it you know exactly what you’re looking for.

Snap Maps Ghost Mode

Ghost Mode is a very important aspect of the new Snap Maps feature. It essentially turns off location services for Snap Maps and ensures you don’t show up. This is essential for children and those who don’t want their location tracked for a multitude of reasons.

The first time you open Snap Maps you are presented with privacy options. Here you can select whether to enable Ghost Mode or not. If you didn’t select it then but later want to change it, you can.

To enable Ghost Mode:

  1. Open the Snapchat app and open the camera.
  2. Pinch to zoon to launch Snap Maps.
  3. Select the gear icon in the top right to access the settings menu.
  4. Check the box next to Enable Ghost Mode.

Is Snap Maps a good idea?

So is this new feature a good idea or not? The jury seems out and cannot seem to make its mind up. Even after having a few months to get used to it, the reception is still mixed. Personally, I think it’s a bad idea but the ability to enable Ghost Mode mitigates that quite a lot.

However, if you have kids, a jealous partner or ex, or inquisitive friends or neighbors, it isn’t quite such a good idea. Parents are rightly worried about it. Not only does it give children the desire to roam further afield to go and see what other Snapchatters are doing but will also tell people where that child might be at the time. This has obvious downsides.

Then there are friends who drop by unexpectedly because you look like you’re doing something cool. Or a jealous partner who tracks where you are every time you have Snapchat open, or other nefarious characters who track who is where and use the information for their own gain.

Fortunately, Snap Maps is only updated when you use the app. Alongside Ghost Mode, you do have some control over what appears online.

Have you used Snap Maps? Like it? Loathe it? Got any stories to tell about it? You know what to do!

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Nov 28, 2017

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