Since their inception, Snapchat's Stories (and Instagram's, for that matter) have largely been about seeing what your friends, celebs, and others are up to — and that's about it. As viewers, we didn't demand much more, beyond the opportunity to send messages in reply. But today, Snapchat is rolling out a new feature that gives a glimpse at a far more useful future for Stories: It's an interactive local guidebook to the places you're seeing.
The new tools, called Context Cards, are comparable to what you might find when tapping on a location in Google Maps: Cards contain everything from reviews via TripAdvisor to the ability to reserve a table via OpenTable — all within Snapchat. Each Card will be tailored to the Story you’re watching. So, for example, if your friend is eating avocado toast at a trendy new brunch spot, you might swipe up to see multiple informational Cards — including directions, a phone number and website, the ability to reserve a table in advance, or calling an Uber to go there immediately.
If you don't want someone knowing where you are for brunch, rest easy: Not every Story will have Context Cards. Only those that are submitted to Snapchat's public Our Story (meaning that it also appears on the Snap Map or within Search), or have been tagged with a venue-specific Geofilter, get Cards. The Stories with Cards will say "More" near the bottom of the screen. When you swipe up, you'll see the additional information.
For today's launch, Snapchat has partnered with Uber and Lyft for ride sharing; OpenTable, Resy, and Bookatable for restaurant reservations; and TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Michelin, and Goop for reviews and applicable tips. It isn't out of left-field to imagine that you might soon be able to book concert tickets or someday even flights via the social app.
Cards are an interesting choice for Snapchat — they build on the functionality of Snap Map, which launched earlier this summer, and show how Snapchat is becoming a more all-encompassing platform than its competitor, Instagram Stories. Context Cards within Stories bring a blend of service and social that's hard to find elsewhere. However, for them to be useful, enough people will need to add the location Geofilter or submit to Our Story.
If you're willing to give friends the in on your favorite pancake spot, this is the way to do it. Facebook might have a recommendation tool, but Snapchat's Cards give you all the information you want, without having to ask for it.