Instagram develops ‘Friend Map’ to allow users track locations

Alex Omenye
Alex Omenye

Instagram is developing a feature known as “Friend Map,” similar to Snapchat’s Snap Map, as confirmed by a Meta spokesperson to TechCrunch on Monday.

Although the company clarified that the feature is currently an internal prototype and not being externally tested, it would allow users to view the real-time locations of their friends with their consent.

Reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi first discovered the feature, which could potentially be another instance of Instagram emulating a popular feature from Snapchat, similar to the Stories functionality adopted in 2016. Moreover, it could also be considered as competition with Apple’s “Find My” map feature.

Screenshots shared on Threads by Paluzzi indicate that the Friend Map feature on Instagram would allow users to control who sees their location, with end-to-end encryption for location data.

Users could share their location with followers who mutually follow them, their “Close Friends” list, or opt for complete privacy. Additionally, the map may include a “Ghost Mode” setting to conceal the user’s last active location.

The Friend Map concept incorporates a feature enabling users to leave brief messages, called “Notes,” on the map for others to view. While Instagram Notes currently appear at the top of the direct messaging feed, the proposed Friend Map would allow users to post these updates directly on the map. This functionality could be utilized for various purposes, such as sharing exciting discoveries like a pop-up shop or a new restaurant.

Instagram’s move into the mapping arena follows the late 2022 introduction of a searchable map experience, enhancing users’ ability to explore popular tagged locations and filter results by categories like restaurants and beauty salons.

This development aligns with Instagram’s strategy to cater to users seeking discovery features within the app, a trend noted by Google’s Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan in 2022.

As Instagram continues to expand its map-related offerings, the potential launch of the Friend Map feature positions the platform to compete with Snapchat and Apple in the space of location-based social features.

Share this Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *