Snapchat is rolling out a new buddy system-like feature that will allow users to share their real-time location for 15 minutes or a few hours with a friend, the company announced on Friday. The new global feature is meant to help users look out for their friends as they continue to resume their social life, return to campus or begin to travel again. It can be used for day-to-day things like making sure your friend gets home safe at night.
Users can only share their real-time location with individual friends. Snapchat says that for safety reasons, there isn’t an option for users to send their real-time location details to all of their Snapchat friends. The company also notes that both parties have to accept each other as friends on Snapchat before they can share their location. When users decide the turn on the feature, they’ll be prompted with a reminder that the tool is meant to be used with close friends and family only.
Since 2017, the app has given users the option to share their location with their friends on the Snap Map when using Snapchat. Now, 250 million people use the Map to connect with their friends each month. The company says this new real-time feature was built on feedback from users about how they were using Snap Map with their friends. It notes that 78% of Snapchat users in the United States say they aren’t hesitant to share their location on the Snap Map and that they do so because they think it’s a safe way to stay connected with others.
The company is releasing the new feature as part of a broader partnership with It’s On Us, a national non-profit dedicated to combating campus sexual assault. In addition to the new feature, the app will also public a new PSA focused on increasing bystander awareness.
The launch of the new feature comes a day after Snapchat announced that users will be able to change their usernames starting February 23. The username change won’t impact aspects of users’ accounts, such as their friend lists, Snap codes, Snap scores, memories, etc. You won’t be able to select usernames that have already been used in the past and you can only change your username once a year.