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New on Snapchat: maps to find friends

Jefferson Graham
USA TODAY
Snapchat's new Map feature

LOS ANGELES — The Snapchat app has a new way to find and communicate with friends, and it's called the Snap Map.

The company announced it Wednesday. Go to the App Store to update your IOS or Android Snapchat app to get the Map feature.

In a nutshell, the Map feature shows where your friends' Snaps are being composed on a Google Map-like interface, and lets you communicate with friends directly on the Map, as the Snaps are being generated.

Snapchat's new Map feature shows where friends are.

To access it, pinch to zoom the Snap camera, and a world opens up, showing the location of your friends, who will appear as their Bitmoji image. Other Snaps, from non-friends, are plentiful, as ones being submitted to the Snapchat Our Story feature, which features curated videos and photos from the Snapchat community. "See Snaps of events, breaking news and more from around the world," Snapchat users get told in the Map screen on their phones.

"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," Snap said in a release announcing Map.

#TalkingTech' found many Snaps in the app Wednesday, of folks attending a baseball game in downtown Los Angeles, a graduation in Northridge and getting ready for the big VidCon convention in Anaheim. Extend it further, and we found Snaps being generated at Yosemite National Park in Northern California, and Bryce Canyon in Utah and on and on, across the USA.

See breaking news via Snaps, in Snapchat's new Map feature

In Snap Map, you can initiate conversations with friends from seeing their Bitmojis on the globe. When you start the Map feature, you get to decide whether to be public, or private in "Ghost Mode," where you can be incognito and have your Bitmoji disappear from the map.

Snap, Inc., the parent company of Snapchat has been locked in a heated battle of innovation with rival Facebook, which has blatantly stolen many of its features for Facebook and company-owned Instagram and Messenger. None of these currently have a map feature to find friends.