Snapchat's New 'Explore' Feature Curates Snap Map to Find Friends and News
Snapchat's best feature gets a boost.
Snapchat is rolling out a new “Map Explore” feature starting Thursday. The new feature will function as a tour guide of sorts to will help Snapchat users navigate the digital space, Snapchat tells Inverse. Map Explore is intended to help people keep up with their friends and stay apprised of breaking news events.
In recent months, Snapchat has focused on improving the Snap Map, perhaps because it is one of the few features that Instagram hasn’t copied yet. In its initial form, the Snap Map was compared to Harry Potter’s Marauder’s Map in that it showed the location of your Snapchat friends along with their publicly shared stories. But last month, Snapchat made the map public-facing. Now, anyone can access it on a web browser. Because of this accessibility, Snap Map has transformed from a potentially invasive gimmick to a useful, interesting feature.
For example, Snap Map helped convey the reality of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 because it provided a comprehensive view of the flooding in places like Houston from people that were there. More recently, the Snap Map depicted the wide scope of school walkouts over gun violence. It gives internet voyeurs a window into the experiences of a certain group of people — at certain times and in certain places — and Map Explore should help facilitate this vicarious living.
Unfortunately, Map Explore isn’t yet available worldwide. To check and see if the app has been updated in your region, navigate to the Snap Map by swiping down on the Snap camera screen. If you have the update, you will see a prompt that says “New Updates” at the bottom of the screen. Tap the button, and you can scroll through events of interest on the Snap Map. Map Explore will continuously update when you travel between locations and geographic regions and when there is breaking news of Snap Map event coverage.
Map Explore is the latest in a slew of new Snapchat features introduced in the past few months. Snapchat is currently jockeying for position with Instagram to be the most popular messaging app, and the competition has forced both social media platforms to add new features at a staggering rate.
With its focus on continuous innovation, Snapchat is proving that the evolutionary “Red Queen Hypothesis” is relevant to the tech world as well: It takes all the updating you can muster to maintain your reign.