Google Maps, Maps, Explore, Google

Google Maps is updating its service with a brand new feature that will allow users to share their location with others for pre-specified periods of time. The company is not the first to come up with this novel idea however, the fact that its mapping service is one of the most widely used across the globe could well give it an edge.

So how the feature works is pretty simple. You can now tell your friends your exact location and even tell them directions. Google will also allow you to choose a special friend or family member, with whom you can chose to share your location for longer durations. Er yeah, the potential for stalking is certainly there but that is why Google has added safeguards — like you needing to grant permission before location would be shared. The company would also push reminders if the feature is left on for a couple of weeks or so.

To use the new feature, tap the blue dot that indicates your exact position in the map. You can then go to a side menu in the app and tap “Get Started.” Finally, chose the option to “Share Location” and then pick the contact/contacts you want to share your location with. You can also set the time you want to share your location for right here varying from a few minutes, to a few hours, months or on.

The company is not alone, or even the first, to go with this feature. Facebook for instance, notified you when your friends are around and even gives you an option to “wave” at them. You can then send them a message if they wave back. Foursquare offers similar functionality through its swarm feature and of late, Uber and Lyft have jumped the bandwagon as well.

Meanwhile, it is kind of going backwards into the future kind of a situation for Google. The company offered a similar feature called Latitude, a few years ago. However, the company pulled that feature a few years ago in a bid to do some experimentation with Google+. Google+ obviously didn’t work out so it was a mistake that also led to people turning elsewhere for real time location sharing.

The only thing Google has going for it now, when there already are a slew of apps for real time location sharing, is the fact that is Maps app is one of the most widely used services of its kind in the world. Folks might start relying on it instead of having 10 other apps for the same purpose. After all, you are going to have Google Maps in your android smartphone whether you like it or not.


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