Facebook rips off Snapchat AGAIN with redesigned ‘Nearby Friends’ tool

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Facebook is taking some obvious inspiration from Snapchat for its latest feature.

The social media giant is revamping its ‘Nearby Friends’ tool by testing a new design that looks nearly identical to rival Snapchat’s ‘Snap Maps.’

Nearby Friends was originally launched in 2014 as a way for users to ‘discover’ when their friends are nearby, but it looks like Facebook is hoping to kickstart usage of the feature by making it more interactive. 

 

When it was first launched, users could browse through a list of friends’ profiles which were categorized by neighborhood. 

It would also show how many miles away friends were from the user and how long ago they were in that approximate location.

However, the feature was optional and, according to some users, wasn’t very popular since its roll out four years ago. 

The new design being tested shows a location of people on a map grouped together by city, according to TechCrunch.

There’s still a ‘view list’ button in the right-hand corner, which opens up the old homescreen. 

Like the previous feature, users can only see an approximate location, not coordinates. 

It also remains an optional feature. 

‘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,’ a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch.

‘People have complete control over whether to use Nearby Friends or not. They can turn it on in the Nearby Friends bookmark.’ 

Screenshots of the new design show that it looks very similar to Snap Maps, which lets user zoom in and click on users’ profiles in an interactive map. 

In Snap Maps, users could also view their friends’ geo-tagged Snapchat Stories, which made it easy for them to figure out what events are going on in their neighborhood. 

It increasingly became a tool for news discovery too, as users began uploading videos during natural disasters, shootings and other breaking events. 

It’s unclear if Facebook plans to integrate any Stories capabilities in its Nearby Friends feature.

Details of the redesign were discovered by Jane Manchun Wong, a frequent tipster and a computer science student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.      

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