Snapchat's newest feature aims to create 'a world for your Bitmoji to live in'

Snapchat’s Snap Map will soon know even more about what you’re doing.

The app is adding two new features to its Snap Map, called Weather and World Effects, that make it easier to see what your friends may be up to.

Unlike Snap Map’s “Actionmoji” feature, which predicts what you may be doing based on your movements, the new effects take into account other information Snapchat knows about your location or the date.

Like its name suggests, Weather Effects adds animations based on what the weather is like wherever your friends are. Zoom in on their Bitmoji on the map, and you’ll see animated raindrops, or sunshine, or snow depending on where they are.

Similarly, World Effects adds animations to mark events that are culturally significant in some way. Snap says they’re meant to be more of a “surprise,” but these could include confetti on your birthday or other holiday-themed effects.

The update, which comes one year after Snap Maps first launched, is part of Snap’s quest to make the map feel more like “this living breathing world that your Bitmoji would want to live in,” says Snap product designer Jack Brody.

Though the location-based Snap Map has gained notoriety for its ability to provide a real-time look at what’s happening on the ground when news happens, whether it’s a hurricane, the Olympics, or a school shooting, Brody says these more light-hearted features are also a priority.

“That’s something we aim to pull in to everything that we do,” he says. “We’re always thinking how do we keep this playful, how do we keep this personal and allow it to feel like it’s alive.”

These types of features may also have another benefit for Snap: making users feel more comfortable sharing their location with friends in the first place. The company hasn’t broken out user numbers for Snap Map specifically, but Brody says 50 percent of those who do use the feature have opted-in to share their location with at least one friend.

At a time when people are more concerned about privacy than ever, the fact that so many are willing to share their location is significant. Brody says this is partly because of the company’s approach to privacy — Snap Maps doesn’t use background location, for example — and partly because of the app’s emphasis on “close friends.”

“Snapchat is uniquely positioned to do this product well. It’s a lot easier to stomach sharing something that might be sensitive, like your location, with these friends because you actually know these people and you care about these people.”

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