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Instagram Developing Opt-In Feature for Sharing Location With Others

Instagram

Instagram is reportedly developing a feature that will allow users to track the real-time locations of their friends.

This “Friend Map” feature is still in the prototype stage and not yet being tested externally, TechCrunch reported Monday (Feb. 26).

The idea behind the Friend Map is to give users the ability to choose who can see their location, providing options such as sharing with followers who follow them back, their “Close Friends” list, or no one at all, according to the report. The feature also includes end-to-end encryption for added security, as well as a “Ghost Mode” setting to hide the user’s last active location.

In addition to tracking locations, the Friend Map will allow users to leave short messages, called “Notes,” on the map for others to see, the report said. This feature could be used to share discoveries like a new restaurant or pop-up shop with friends.

The goal is to enhance the social aspect of the platform and encourage more engagement among users, per the report. 

Instagram’s move to develop the Friend Map comes at a time when the company is looking to expand its in-app map offerings, according to the report. In late 2022, Instagram introduced a searchable map experience that allowed users to explore popular tagged locations and filter results by categories like restaurants and cafes. This move was seen as a way to compete with traditional mapping services like Google Maps and cater to the preferences of younger users. 

By developing the Friend Map feature, Instagram is taking inspiration from SnapchatSnap Map and Apple’s “Find My map feature, the report said.

This new feature gives Instagram users another reason to stay on the platform and a unique way to connect with friends, per the report.

Snapchat parent company Snap said in January 2023 that Snap Map was growing in usage and that “we believe that deepening engagement around Places will increase our monetization opportunity by building organic engagement around businesses with a physical location, which is a precursor to sponsored engagement.”

Google Maps announced Feb. 1 that it is rolling out a new feature that uses generative artificial intelligence (AI) to help people discover places. This feature aims to provide personalized recommendations to users based on their specific needs.