You can now share your location in real-time with your contacts, friends, family, or to a closed group. Google Maps is rolling out the feature worldwide on its app, available on iOS and Android. Users can swipe left on the app and select “Share location”. This generates a shareable link which can be sent to other users using text messages. The link can be viewed on any device—smartphones, PCs, desktops—although the original user can control who can view the link.
Note that Google Maps already has locations sharing: On PC, users can share GPS coordinates using a shareable link (here is an example), or even embed it on another website. On the mobile app, there is a “share” option, but this only shows up for individual locations on the map and not on the current user location. The new “Share Location” is built to work differently, here is how:
Real-time sharing and controls: Users can additionally control how long the shareable link can work—for 1 hour, a day, or until it’s turned off manually. Google says that when a user shares his/her locations, the app will place an icon next to the compass icon on the top left corner, indicating that location-sharing is on. Recode points out that Google Map users will receive email reminders in case users don’t turn off real-time sharing for a long period of time. Besides, the links generated will be automatically destroyed in 3 days.
Trip info sharing: While driving a vehicle, users can share their trip on a real-time basis. Under the “More” button on the bottom of the navigation screen, a user can hit tap “Share trip”. “When you share your trip with people, they’ll see your expected arrival time and can follow your journey as you head towards your destination. Sharing automatically ends when you arrive,” Google said in a statement.
Other apps and services with location sharing
There is a sea of location-sharing apps on Google Play store mostly meant to keep a check on your family, friends or to alert close friends when in trouble. Now with Google’s integrated location-sharing feature, these apps could soon become obsolete. Apart from this, popular apps like WhatsApp and Facebook’s Messenger have locations sharing (but not real-time). Note that last month, WhatsApp debuted real-time location sharing (as a beta feature) along with controls for limiting visibility and the time-duration for location sharing.
While Facebook went a bit further and decided to launch Nearby Friends back in 2014— a feature that allows Facebook users to literally stalk their friends by broadcasting accurate location. But due to the utter creepiness of the feature and public backlash, Facebook tweaked it to remove accurate location sharing; now the feature displays a nearby friend in form of distance (Km).