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Instagram explores "Friend Map" akin to Snapchat's Snap Map, aiming to enhance engagement & location sharing within its ecosystem

Instagram is venturing into new territory with the development of a "Friend Map" feature, akin to Snapchat's Snap Map
Instagram is venturing into new territory with the development of a "Friend Map" feature, akin to Snapchat's Snap Map

Instagram is venturing into new territory with the development of a "Friend Map" feature, akin to Snapchat's Snap Map, as confirmed by a Meta spokesperson to TechCrunch. This opt-in feature aims to enable users to view their friends' real-time locations, offering a glimpse into their whereabouts. Although still in the internal prototype phase and not yet undergoing external testing, the feature hints at Instagram's evolving strategy to keep users engaged within its ecosystem.

If Instagram decides to officially roll out the Friend Map, it would mark yet another instance of the platform emulating popular features pioneered by competitors like Snapchat. Notably, Instagram previously replicated Snapchat's core Stories functionality in 2016. Moreover, by introducing a Friend Map, Instagram could potentially encroach on Apple's "Find My" map feature, providing users with an alternative means to track their friends and family members.

The emergence of the Friend Map also presents an opportunity for Instagram to tap into the void left by Zenly, a social map app acquired by Snapchat and subsequently shuttered. By incorporating location-sharing capabilities, Instagram aims to offer users a comprehensive platform where they can connect with friends, discover new places, and share experiences seamlessly.

According to screenshots shared by reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi, who often uncovers social media features in development, the Friend Map would offer users granular control over their location visibility. Users can selectively choose who can access their location, whether it be followers who reciprocate the follow, individuals from their "Close Friends" list, or no one at all. Notably, location data would be safeguarded with end-to-end encryption, bolstering user privacy and security.

In addition to location sharing, the Friend Map would facilitate communication through "Notes," short messages that users can leave on the map for others to view. This feature adds a layer of interactivity to the map, allowing users to share real-time updates about interesting discoveries, events, or experiences with their friends and followers.

Instagram's foray into location-based features aligns with its broader efforts to enhance in-app discovery and engagement. In late 2022, the platform introduced a searchable map experience, enabling users to explore popular tagged locations and filter results by categories such as restaurants, cafes, and beauty salons. This move underscores Instagram's ambition to become a one-stop destination for socializing, discovering, and sharing experiences within its platform.

As Instagram continues to expand its feature set, it not only challenges competitors like Snapchat but also disrupts traditional players like Google in the realm of location-based services. With the potential rollout of the Friend Map, Instagram aims to solidify its position as a dominant force in the social media landscape, offering users innovative ways to connect, explore, and engage with their surroundings.


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