Zenly App: What You Need to Know

If you’ve been asking yourself,  “What is the Zenly app, and how has it gotten so popular so quickly?” ask no longer! At the conclusion of this guide, you’ll not only know what the Zenly app is and how it rose to prominence, but also why users all over the world are depending on it to stay connected while they travel. 

Here’s a summary of what this guide covers:

What is the Zenly app, and how does it work?

Originally a French startup, Zenly was launched more than six years ago as a way to keep track of your close friends in real time. Rather than waiting for your friends to text you their location or hoping that they update their status on social media, you can follow their exact steps as they’re happening. Available for free on the App Store and GooglePlay, Zenly is a social mapping network that uses video game technology and a 3D camera to create a custom, well-rounded view of the world for each of its users. Just open the app, answer a few preliminary questions about yourself and your location, and start adding your friends!

Scrolling through the sleek, black and neon interface, Zenly looks like the sort of app that might be featured in a film about spy technology or life in space. The home screen consists of your personal map, which displays you and your friends’ locations, as well as three buttons: the messaging feature, the mapping feature, and the searching feature. 


  • The messaging feature allows you to reach out to friends without ever having to leave the app. You can have both individual and group chats, adding up to 100 people in each message! This feature is also where all of your recent conversations will be stored, so don’t worry about forgetting that one thing your friend told you when you were both out and enjoying life a little too much. 


  • Next, the mapping feature lets you recenter your map or view your recent highlights. This way, you can see where you’ve been traveling, while also sharing the best memories and moments with your friends. 


  • And finally, using the searching feature, you can search for friends by clicking on their profile, checking where they are and what they’re up to. You can see everything from their location and who they’re with to how long they’ve been there and what their battery percentage is! You can also see recent highlights and start a conversation with the “What’s Up” button, which lets you send a picture or video with a location tag, prompting your friend to send one back. And with Zenly’s most recent update, you can also search for places near you, such as bars and restaurants, to see if they would be a good fit for you and your friends on a night out. 

A cross between social media, a messaging system, and a functional mapping network, Zenly is one to pay attention to.

How many monthly users does Zenly have? 

With 35 million monthly users1, Zenly is doing better than ever, and continues to make user-friendly updates and adjustments to their platform (we’ll talk more about this later)! 

How many people have downloaded the Zenly app?

As of March 2022, Zenly was listed as the tenth most-downloaded social app2 in the world, topping charts in countries like France3, Spain4, Poland5, Denmark6, and more! 

In which countries is the Zenly app available?

Zenly is available in several countries, including the United States, but is particularly popular in Japan, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia7.  

Is the Zenly app safe? 

Like most social and mapping apps, safety and security are primary concerns for any user. And because the Zenly app is designed to be as exact as possible when featuring someone’s location, you might be wondering, “Should I be worried about my safety or privacy when using the app?” The short answer: no, we don’t think so. There are several privacy settings in place to ensure that you are both safe and comfortable while using the app and connecting with friends. For example, you can adjust your individual privacy settings to show only the city you’re in, rather than an exact location, or to show no location at all. You can also switch your app to privacy mode8so that only people you’ve added can view and request your location, and vice versa. Additionally, Zenly includes a Ghost Mode9, which will hide your real-time location from anyone on your friends list.

Is Zenly like Snapchat?

Yes, more so than you might think! Snapchat purchased Zenly in 2017, and while the app has remained independent, many of its original features can be seen in Snapchat’s own mapping system, the Snap Map. And like Snapchat, Zenly allows users to chat with their friends inside the app, while also sending each other photos and videos. However, with Zenly’s “What’s Up” feature, you can only send a photo or video to one friend at a time, and the content will expire after two hours, or whenever your friend opens it. 

Once you and your friend have interacted weekly for at least three weeks, you will be labeled as “best friends” 10 and have an ongoing streak—just like Snapchat! Additionally, Zenly also offers a “mutual love”11status, which refers to friends who spend the most time in real life together. This status doesn’t require daily interaction and comes with a heart icon next to your friend’s avatar. 

Antoine Martin, Zenly’s co-founder and CEO, has recently stepped down to invest in new creative pursuits. Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel will be taking control of Zenly operations, so expect future collaborations and (or) crossovers between the apps!12 

What special features are included in the Zenly app?

If Zenly wasn’t impressive enough, the app also comes with several fun, bonus features, which they call “Secret Stuff”13. These features include “bumps” and special emojis. “Bumps” occur when you open your map and shake your phone, successfully adding the people near you as new friends and (or) sending a notification to a mutual friend to let them know that you’re together. Special emojis are regular emojis from your keyboard that become larger-than-life when you send them to a friend, taking up the entire screen or crescendoing into an explosion (depending on how many times you send the emoji). So choose your weapons carefully 😏.

What changes were made in the most recent Zenly update?

Zenly continues to make waves in the app community, and nowhere are those waves more apparent than in their most recent update. Released in April of 2022, the app launched a complete redesign of their platform. Here’s what’s new: 


  • Hoping to attract a wider audience, Zenly traded in their bold, multicolored lines and images for an interface that was more neutral and slick. They also introduced aspects of video game technology, such as GPS footprints14—a feature which displays your footprints to let your friends know where you’ve been—and a “fog of war”— a fog overlay which lets you know which locations you have yet to visit (both are common features in strategy video games15). 


  • Mentioned above, the ability to search for places, as well as people, is a new feature within the app, and will allow users to find the businesses and hang-out spots that are best suited for their social gatherings. This new feature will also supply you with a place card for each location, providing basic information such as the place’s phone number, address, and distance from you. 


  • Also included in this update was the “My World” feature, which allows users to click on someone’s profile and see their top or most-visited locations. This feature encourages users to explore new places, while also gaining an insight into the type of places their friends are frequenting. 
  • Due to privacy concerns, “My World” is locked by default, but can be activated inside a user’s profile. 
  • Once the feature is activated, you’ll have the opportunity to be featured on each place’s leaderboard–a scoreboard showing which users frequent that location the most often. 


  • The most exciting changes are those happening in Zenly’s global map
  • Using various datasets and Zenly’s own algorithm, the app team has created a map that will respond to, and mirror, the physical features of the real world. For example, when there’s a body of water, users can tap on the screen to receive a splashing effect, and when there’s a forest, 3D technology has been used to create trees. This same technology places moving cars on streets and boats and ducks in water16
  • Moreover, these 3D capabilities have also been used to create models of real landmarks! So, if you’re visiting Zenly’s birthplace in Paris, you can see a miniature Eiffel Tower on your map. Not only are these landmarks neat imitations of the real thing, but they can also help you identify where you are and where you might want to meet up with friends. 
  • As you explore these features on your map, you’ll notice that you don’t swipe to move around, but rather you use Zenly’s 3D camera, which creates a smooth viewing experience.

These updates and new features are exciting but don’t worry if you don’t immediately have access to them. Zenly is doing a gradual rollout, and certain features (such as the 3D landmarks) will be available as the rollout progresses from city to city. Yet, Zenly is confident that all of their users will soon be enjoying the best of their social mapping technology. 

Should I download Zenly?

Yes! This contextual app adapts to your needs, allowing you to customize your profile and map for the ideal blend of social media and mapping technology. Zenly’s innovative and nonlinear content is moving up the charts quickly, and you don’t want to be left behind! But if you are, don’t panic: Zenly will have your location up and ready in no time!

Want to learn more about the Zenly app?

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  1. Dillet, R. (2022, April 22). How Zenly made social maps cool again — and what’s next. TechCrunch. Retrieved July 1, 2022 from https://techcrunch.com/2022/04/22/how-zenly-made-social-maps-cool-again-and-whats-next/
  2.  Dillet, R. (2022, April 22). How Zenly made social maps cool again — and what’s next. TechCrunch. Retrieved July 1, 2022 from https://techcrunch.com/2022/04/22/how-zenly-made-social-maps-cool-again-and-whats-next/
  3. Ceci, L. (2022, March 15). Leading mobile social apps in the Google Play Store in France in February 2022, by number of downloads. Statista. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/690674/leading-social-media-apps-in-google-play-in-france-by-downloads/
  4. Published by Statista Research Department. (2022, May 23). Leading iPhone social media apps in the Apple App Store in Spain in February 2022, by number of downloads. Statista. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/700109/leading-iphone-social-networking-apps-in-spain-by-downloads/
  5. Wanat, G. (2022, April 20). Leading free navigation mobile applications in Poland in March 2022, by number of downloads. Statista. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1270226/poland-top-free-navigation-apps/
  6. Ceci, L. (2022, April 8). Leading social media apps in the Apple App Store in Denmark in February 2022, by number of downloads. Statista. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/698908/top-iphone-social-networking-apps-in-denmark-by-number-of-downloads/
  7. Dillet, R. (2022, April 22). How Zenly made social maps cool again — and what’s next. TechCrunch. Retrieved July 1, 2022 from https://techcrunch.com/2022/04/22/how-zenly-made-social-maps-cool-again-and-whats-next/
  8. Zenly. Privacy and Security: Private Mode (n.d.) Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://community.zen.ly/hc/en-us/articles/5332172712977-Private-Mode
  9. Zenly. Ghost Mode: The Downlow on Ghost Mode (n.d.) Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://community.zen.ly/hc/en-us/articles/5333128490513
  10. Zenly. Managing Friends: Best Friends (n.d.) Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://community.zen.ly/hc/en-us/articles/5398169686673-Best-Friends
  11. Zenly. Other Stuff: Mutual Love (n.d.) Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://community.zen.ly/hc/en-us/articles/5397690966545-Mutual-Love 
  12. Dillet, R. (2022, April 22). How Zenly made social maps cool again — and what’s next. TechCrunch. Retrieved July 1, 2022 from https://techcrunch.com/2022/04/22/how-zenly-made-social-maps-cool-again-and-whats-next/ 
  13. Zenly. Secret Stuff (n.d.) Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://community.zen.ly/hc/en-us/sections/360000347988-Secret-Stuff- 
  14. Jaffe, M. (2022, May 14). Zenly App Review 2022: What’s up with the new design? Pilot. Retrieved July 1, 2022 from https://www.pilotplans.com/blog/zenly-review 
  15. Dillet, R. (2022, May 18). Social maps app Zenly rolls out its own maps. TechCrunch. Retrieved July 1, 2022 from https://techcrunch.com/2022/05/18/social-maps-app-zenly-rolls-out-its-own-maps/ 
  16. Dillet, R. (2022, May 18). Social maps app Zenly rolls out its own maps. TechCrunch. Retrieved July 1, 2022 from https://techcrunch.com/2022/05/18/social-maps-app-zenly-rolls-out-its-own-maps/