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After Google, Facebook debuts live location sharing on Messenger

Almost a week after Google Maps featured live location sharing, Facebook too has launched a similar feature on its Messenger app. Users can now share current location in real-time to Facebook friends using ‘Live Location’ feature which is integrated into the Messenger app as an icon. Clicking on it will allow users to broadcast their location to friends for up to a maximum limit of 60 seconds. This being rolled out globally on both iOS and Android.

Facebook says that it has been testing the feature in Mexico and claims to have optimized the feature to save battery life, according to this Reuters report. Note that Facebook already allows static location sharing, but with the new feature, a user can accurately track movements of another user on a map using Live Location. Once a user starts broadcasting locations, they can stop sharing it anytime. A timer clock appears in the lower right corner of the Messenger app when the feature is initiated, indicating time left.

Apart from this, the feature will provide estimates “of how long it would take to get to other (user’s) locations by car. The ETA is seen by the person with whom the location is shared,” Facebook said in a statement. Google Maps, on the other hand, generates shareable links (with a validity of 3 days) which can be sent to other users using text messages. The link redirects users to live location tracking of the sender and also provides ETA when the destination is set.

Other apps and services with location sharing

Apart from Facebook and Google, WhatsApp also debuted real-time location sharing last month (as a beta feature) along with controls for limiting visibility and the time-duration for location sharing. WhatsApp already has static location sharing. On the Play Store, there are numerous location-sharing apps, mostly meant to keep a check on family and friends or to alert close friends when in trouble. As we pointed out earlier, these apps could soon become obsolete due to Facebook and Google integrating it within their services.

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Note that Facebook also has Nearby Friends which was launched back in 2014. The feature allowed Facebook users to track their friends by broadcasting accurate location. But due to public backlash, Facebook tweaked it to remove accurate location sharing; now the feature displays nearby friends in form of distance (Km).

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