VIDEO: Everything you need to know about Snapchat's new location sharing Snap Map - according to Snapchat

The new Snap Map
The new Snap Map

Social media service Snapchat has introduced a new tracker in its latest update allowing people to see the exact location of their friends.

A new feature on Snapchat allowing anyone to share their location has been explained by Snapchat in depth.

The new Snap Map had prompted concerns from some parents groups online who argued that the update could pose a risk to children sharing their location on the service.

The social media giant has explained in depth how the new update works and how to change the settings.

What is it?

The update allows you to see the exact area, town, street and even house in the street of any user.

Snapchat has stressed that the location feature is 'opt-in', which means that location sharing is switched off by default but can be turned on by the user.

Location sharing only works with people added to your friends list, say Snapchat, and you can set the feature for a group of friends or everyone.

Enabling 'ghost mode' means that the user will not share their location.

Are you aware of your child's Snapchat settings?

Why it's been introduced

Jack Brody, the lead Snap Map product designer, said: "In a lot of ways, we're taking what a map is and turning it upside down.

"This map isn't about where am I, it's about where are my friends and what are they up to. It's not about figuring out how to get to your destination, but about discovering where you want to go."

According to Brody, there's strong evidence that Snapchatters have been wanting a way to let friends know where they are via the app.

"Interestingly, one of the habits we've seen with our users is that they'll take a snap where they are, put on the geofilter, and post it to their story with a caption like 'hit me up,'" Brody said.

"They're basically saying come hang out with me here. Then, when they leave there they'll delete that from their story."

With geolocations on the map, your friends will know if you're still at the beach, without you needing to update your Story.

How it works

Snapchat says The Snap Map shows you what’s happening nearby and around the world, anchored by the context of your friends’ Actionmojis (a new type of Bitmoji).

The firm said in a statement: "Snapchat is first and foremost a place to talk with your closest friends day after day. In fact, the majority of interactions on Snapchat (nearly 60%) are between close friends (Circles of Influence research from Sparkler, US data, commissioned by Snap).

"To get started and view the Snap Map, simply pinch to zoom out from the Snapchat camera! The Snap Map is a new layer on top of the current Snapchat experience. The first time Snapchatters open Snapchat after updating their app, they’ll be taken through an onboarding flow outlining how to find the Map and how it works.

"Snap Map is a living, breathing map -- it’s different every day! -- and can inspire you to take action. See a friend on the Snap Map? Chat them or maybe even go meet up. Not sure what to do today? Explore the Map and go out on an adventure.

"Snaps shown on the Map include only those Snaps which have been submitted by our community to Our Story. Snaps are available to view on the Map for about 24 hours, though they may searchable for longer in places like Search.

"“Heat” on the map indicates Snaps are being taken and submitted to Our Story from that area -- there may be a special event or breaking news happening here. These Snaps are sorted using advanced machine learning techniques that aim to surface interesting Snaps that are also safe and fun for our community -- not all Snaps sent to Our Story will show up on the Map or in Search.

"Thumbnails will also help Snapchatters distinguish points of interest where a lot of Snaps are regularly being taken and submitted regularly, like Times Square or a major attraction, as well as those events that the Snap team has more of a hand in curating."

"Location-sharing with friends via the Map is optional (and is turned off by default). The first time you open Snapchat after Options updating the app, you’ll be taken through an onboarding user-flow. As a part of that, you’ll learn how to reach the Map and select who you’d like to share your location with.

"They include: select Snapchat friends, all your Snapchat friends or no friends -- what we’re calling “Ghost Mode”.

"You can update who can see your location on the Map at any time right from the Settings gear in the Map. If you’ve been sharing your location with friends and decide you’d like to stop for any reason, just toggle Ghost Mode on and your Bitmoji should disappear from the Map within seconds.

"If your friends are sharing their location with you, their new Actionmojis will appear on the Map. To infer the best Actionmoji, Snapchat may look at things like your location, time of day, or speed of travel. Examples of Actionmojis today include things like: at the beach, at the airport, sitting and a handful more.

"Actionmoji location on the Map only updates when Snapchat is opened. If a Snapchatter has not opened the app in several hours, their Actionmoji will disappear from the Map entirely.

"See a friend on the Map that you want to Chat or Snap? Simply tap your friend’s Actionmoji to get started!

"If a group of friends are together on the Map, you’ll also see the option to kick off a group Chat."

The photo and video-sharing app has more than 55 million users in Europe and 10 million daily users in the UK. Rival photo-sharing app Instagram already uses a mapping feature, which enables users to see content based on where it was posted.

Instagram and fellow Facebook-owned apps WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have placed increasing pressure on Snapchat in recent months - adding features to their own platforms similar to that of Snapchat.

Snapchat's parent company Snap Inc recently launched its first hardware product in the UK - video-enabled glasses called Spectacles, which record 10-second clips and save them to a user's Snapchat account so they can be shared with friends.