What Does Snapchat Mean When it Says ‘Within X feet?’
If you’re using Snap Maps in Snapchat and you see a bitmoji on the map with ‘within 200 feet’ of a location, what does it mean. Why doesn’t it just say ‘in the coffee shop on the corner’ or something more exact?
This happens a fair amount according to people I canvassed. You see someone on Snap Maps and rather than being able to pinpoint their exact location, you see ‘within X feet’. Most of the time, Snap Maps is pretty accurate and can show almost exactly where you are.
It isn’t always possible to accurately locate where you are. As Snap Maps uses GPS, WiFi or cell tower data, the accuracy of the map varies depending on what is being used. Civilian GPS is accurate to around 50 feet while cell tower data uses triangulation to see where you are in a circle. That size of that circle varies depending on whether you’re in the city or the country but could be from 50 to 150 feet. WiFi depends on having the correct router data available but is usually fairly accurate.
Add the fact that a cell tower may be down, you may be in a densely populated or very busy area and Snap Maps will sometimes have difficulty finding you. That’s why sometimes you might see someone’s bitmoji with ‘within 200 feet’ of a given location. It must means exactly location data is not available, usually because the person isn’t using GPS.
The trouble with believing Snap Maps
On the whole, Snap Maps seems fairly accurate, to within a few hundred feet anyway. But what happens if it gets location completely wrong? Cell location data is only accurate to a certain point and then isn’t much use for location tracking. For example, if you live in an apartment block, the most accurate location could be shared with dozens of other users.
It can also be incorrect due to misconfiguration at the cell tower, latency on the network or other technical reason.
If you use Snap Maps to locate someone, it is not 100% and you shouldn’t use it on its own without other evidence. Add to that the fact you can spoof your location in Snap Maps altogether, it makes sense to not depend on Snap Maps alone for tracking someone.
Snap Maps Status
At the time of writing, Snapchat are trialing a new feature for Snap Maps called Status. This offers more interaction with maps by showing what you’re up to at certain times. I have seen it in action but my app doesn’t have it as a full feature yet.
It uses Actionmoji like we have seen before but will offer more options such as watching TV or playing video games. Snapchat will also keep track of these activities using another feature called Passport.
I can see where this has potential but I don’t think it will change many people’s opinion of Snap Maps. Ever had someone drop in on you after seeing you at home but you’re in the middle of an Apex Legends session or are playing PUBG with your friends? When you’re at home, some friends tend to assume you’re available to hang out rather than just spending time at home doing things other than your usual. This Status feature could stop that.
I personally see Passport as less useful. A sort of diary showing you where you have been, what you have been doing and how long you were there. Thankfully, Passport is not set up for sharing but is for your reference only. You can also delete entries if you no longer want them there.
You will still have the same privacy options you do now, the ability to go into Ghost Mode and select who sees what. To turn off Snap Maps altogether, do this:
- Open Snap Maps in the usual way.
- Select the gear icon to access Settings.
- Select Ghost Mode to toggle it to on.
If you don’t want to turn Snap Maps off altogether, you can control who sees your location with a simple setting. We can use Who Can See My Location, which lets you control who sees what in Snap Maps.
- Open Snap Maps.
- Access Settings and select Who Can See My Location.
- Select a setting from the options.
Your options here are Only Me (Ghost Mode), My Friends which only shows your location to mutual friends, My Friends Except, which bars certain friends from seeing you and Only These Friends. Select Next in Only These Friends and you see a list of your Snapchat friends. Check the box next to each friend tom include then in your Snap Maps circle.