Snap, the parent company of social messaging app Snapchat, just recently announced a brand new feature called Snap Map, which lets you track your friends on a map in real time.
Los Angeles-based company, Snap has been moving more deeply into location-based tools at a rapid pace lately, using deals to build out its portfolio. It even acquired ‘Placed’ earlier this month to help it track whether ads are driving people to physical stores.
And now, according to Techcrunch, the company has bought social mapping startup, Zenly in late May, and has turned the product (social location app) into a feature on its main Snapchat application that lets users see friends’ photo and video posts by location. Techcrunch also broke the news that Snap acquired the Zenly for between $250- and $350 million in cash plus additional stock awards, citing anonymous sources.
Zenly’s app lets users see where their friends currently are on a map using constant GPS in the background. People can then message these friends in the app to make plans to hang out. The French-based startup’s app has 4 million downloads and is mostly used by teens trying to keep up with their friends.
Snap map is blending together stories, bitmojis (animated cartoon avatars that users can personalize to depict themselves – as the markers on the map) and location. Snap Map has the animated map scale similar to Zenly and you can also scroll with one hand by sliding your finger up and down the right edge. On Zenly, the icon changes from a skateboard to a bike and then a car depending on how far you zoom out. On Snapchat, it changes from a bee to a bird and then a helicopter. It’s not the same icons, but it’s the same idea. Just like on Zenly, you can turn on “Ghost Mode” (it’s called the same thing in both apps) so that you disappear from the map for a while. Finally, Snap also implemented gatherings. But it isn’t automatically grouping people together on the map. Instead, it relies on its “Our Story” collaborative feature.
Rather than shutting down Zenly and folding it into Snapchat, Snap Inc. will keep Zenly running independently, similar to how Facebook lets Instagram run independently.
While, Snap has recently suffered from a lot of copying from other social platforms – like Snapchat Stories feature is being aggressively copied by Instagram and Whatsapp, the company is wise to expand into the social utility space by adding more and more features.
Snapchat has earlier bought Looksery for $150 million, which went on to power its iconic augmented reality face filters. It bought Bitstrips for $64.2 million, which has flourished as Snapchat’s Bitmoji personalized avatar stickers. Story Search from Vurb, QR Snapcodes from Scan.me and Spectacles glasses from Vergence Labs were its some other acquisitions.