Snapchat’s Snap Map fails to snap.

SnapChat’s newest feature wants you to meet friends in real-life. Calling it, “Snap Map”, users simply pinch to see a map with overlays showing where your friends are and stories at locations shared by your friend. It’s rolling out to all iOS and Android users today.

How It Works

Users simply pinch on the camera screen to see a map. You can share your location with your friends or you can select certain friends who you want to share your location with. Snapchat also allows privacy focused users to select “Ghost Mode” to share with just yourself.

SnapChat claims the new feature will help users connect with their friends on a deeper level. It also opens up a new way to discover story content compared to the boring list view that previous version had.

Is it a homerun?

No. While Snap Map is cool at first glance it really doesn’t add much value to the end user. Most of your address book is typically people who are not near you or you don’t see on a daily basis. Let’s jump through the demographic slots here:

High School — I myself went out and asked groups of high schoolers what they thought about the feature and most of them thought it was cool but said they would never use it. They already see their friends everyday and as one put it, “They know where I’ll be at.” Sharing your location is almost a net negative for this group.

College — Here your address book fragments big time. You are basically going to leave your hometown and head to college and create a brand new set of relationships. But again, it’s going to be very similar to high school. Everyone you care about spending time with is going to the same party, going to the same place for lunch, or hanging out at the same house party. The money app here is still messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram and native phone messaging apps. Asking a group of college students what they use SnapChat for and the answer was 50/50. Half said for connecting with people back home with the other half was more voyeurism to pass time.

Adult Life — This is where location is the most important. Most people lose touch with old friends and have a hard time finding new ones. Unfortunately, Snap Map bombs here because everyone you see on the map is a friend and most of them are either far away or you’ve lost touch with.

SnapChat’s aim is noble. They are trying to bring people closer together in real-life at places you might share common interests. However it falls short. Apps like Placecot do a far better job of giving users the pulse of an area. It’s quick and clean to see what’s going on nearby with a few swipes. Even games like Pokemon Go do a better job of helping users discover their city and connect them with people who share the same interests.

While Snap Map is cool, it likely has little or no utility and is unlikely to move the needle in the location game.

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