Facebook tests Snap Map-style redesign of Nearby Friends
Facebook tested for matching friends by nearby friends feature this friend meet up offline has been a massive missed opportunity for Facebook. Whether because the brand is too creepy or the politely opt-in 2015 rollout of its location-sharing feature wasn’t creepy enough, Facebook Nearby Friends never quite took off. Only 103 of my 1,120 friends in San Francisco have it turned on.
It’s not the only one struggling with “The quest to cure loneliness.” Foursquare Swarm, Glympse, Apple’s Find My Friends and Google Maps’ real-time coordinate-sharing option have all failed to become a ubiquitous standard.
But last year, Snapchat launched a different take on the idea based on its biggest acquisition ever, French app Zenly. With Snap Map, it wasn’t just about the utility of seeing a list of friends’ locations like on Facebook but also splayed them out across maps that you could dive into to see their latest geo-tagged Stories. It was as much about fun and content as it was about actually hanging out with people in person.
Now Facebook is testing a significant redesign of Nearby Friends that looks a lot more like Snap Map. It replaces the list view of the neighborhoods and cities friends are in with a map that groups friends together by city. A “view list” button opens up the former home screen, though in both views you still can only see a friend’s approximate location in a neighborhood or city, not their exact coordinates. Facebook confirms to TechCrunch that “We’re testing a new design for Nearby Friends, a tool people have used for the past four years to meet with their friends in person. People have complete control over whether to use Nearby Friends or not. They can turn it on in the Nearby Friends bookmark.”