Eventually, Snapchat is going to run out of hand gestures.
The ephemeral messaging service announced on its blog today that it’s launching a new section of its app, called Snap Map. It’s meant to be a new way to see what your friends are doing (and where they’re doing it), by overlaying their snaps onto a map. If your friends have their location enabled but haven’t snapped anything recently, it’ll just show their Bitmoji (the comical cartoon avatar company Snap purchased in 2016), so you can ask them what they are up to—in case using all of the myriad other social media apps that have similar features are all down. If you haven’t spent the time to artfully craft a cartoon version of yourself for the app, Snap Map just shows a rather creepy outline of a person instead:
To access the new feature (after updating the app), users have to pinch with two fingers on the home screen of the app—something that’s nearly impossible to do if you only have one hand free. And unless you’re reading articles like this one, or are an ardent follower of Snapchat’s product blog, it’s unlikely you’ll know how to access this feature—there are no visual cues within the app itself.
It seems that Snapchat had no choice but to use this awkward gesture to open the Map: Currently, just about every other type of one-fingered gesture is already being used by Snapchat in some capacity: swipe left to access messages, right to access stories, down to get to settings, up to get to saved snaps, double-tap to flip the camera around. And every corner of the home screen already has an icon or two in it, so there really wasn’t anywhere to even add a button for the new feature within the app. If Snapchat keeps adding features, we may soon have to perform the finger equivalent of playing Twister to access them.
Snap Map also allows users to find stories happening around their location, as well. Snapchat has in the past been criticized for the fact that it’s relatively difficult to find new users to connect with or stories to watch, partially because of its purposefully obfuscating user interface. In April, Snap partially answered these criticisms by adding a far more powerful search function that allows users to search for topics and words to find snaps to watch on those terms, rather than just being limited to the snaps of the users they know. Snap Map feels like an extension of this idea, but at the time of writing, the only snaps the app had to show me in a city with one of the highest populations of youths in the country were for a concert and a rally that happened the night before:
It seems Wall Street was nonplussed about the news, too: Shares of Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, have been trading near the company’s IPO price all week, just over three months after its debut on the market, after general concerns about the company’s ability to grow. Today’s news doesn’t seem to have changed much: At the time of publishing, Snap’s stock was at $17.29, down about 0.1% from yesterdays’ close.