It can be difficult to coordinate locations with friends and relatives. When there are many corners, dozens of trees, and 1,908 miles of Interstate 95,
phrases like “I’m by a big tree,” “I’m standing on the corner,” and “My car broke down but there are no signs so just drive down I-95 for a bit” aren’t helpful.
So take advantage of the plethora of apps that allow you to share your location securely and privately without broadcasting it to the rest of the world.
In addition to figuring out where to meet, these applications can help you keep track of your children without having to inform everyone where they are.
The ones we’ve gathered are all free to use, easy to set up, and may save you a lot of time when you need to know exactly where someone is.
USE GOOGLE MAPS TO SHARE YOUR LOCATION
For a few years, Google Maps has offered a location-sharing tool that you can use on your phone or the website.
The only stipulation is that everyone you share with has a Google account and can use Google Maps.
The Google Maps app for Android or iOS is the ideal place to start.
Tap the blue dot that represents your current position, then tap Share your location.
This will give you the choice of choose who will be able to see your location.
You can also choose how long this information will be available for: anywhere from 15 minutes to one day, possibly indefinitely—or at least until you disable sharing again.
If you want to share your location indefinitely (“until you turn it off”), you’ll need to choose people from your contacts list who can see where you are or, more precisely, where your phone is—at any time of day.
This is a significant loss of privacy, so choose your approved pals carefully.
If you’re only sharing your location for a limited time, you have the option of selecting certain people to share with or creating a link that anyone can use to lock in your location.
Keep in mind that the latter choice can assist any stranger with the correct link in locating you.
As long as they’re signed in with the correct Google account, everyone you’ve shared your position with will be able to view it on Google Maps—both the website and the app.
You can also reciprocate if someone has disclosed their location with you: Toggle whether or not they can see where you are by tapping on their image.
Select Location sharing from the app or website menu to remind yourself who can see you—and who can see your location.
You can control who can view your location and vice versa, as well as revoke or add access as needed.
Of course, for all of this to work, you’ll need to allow Google Maps to track your current location on your phone.
The option should be enabled by default, but you can double-check by heading to the Google Maps menu, pressing Personal content, and then working your way through the Location settings.
On Android and iOS, they’ll be labeled slightly differently, but they should be very easy to figure out.
USE APPLE’S FIND MY APP TO SHARE YOUR LOCATION
Apple, not to be outdone by Google, has its location-based software called Find My.
It’s most recognized for finding misplaced electronics, but it may also be used to locate individuals.
It comes pre-installed on new iPhones and iPads, but if for some reason it isn’t, you can download it again.
This software does not have an Android counterpart, as you might expect from Apple.
As a result, this option is only available to iPhone users.
In other words, if your misbehaving kid has an Android phone, you won’t be able to track their location via Find My.
Find also accessible using your iCloud account’s web browser.
To begin sharing your location, tap People from within the iOS app. If you add someone who doesn’t have an iPhone, you’ll get an error notice.
You’ll be able to share your location for an hour, the rest of the day, or indefinitely, just like with Google Maps.
Back on the main screen, you can see who you’ve shared your location with and how long they’ll be able to track you down.
You may also tap on anyone on the list and request to see their location, however, you’ll need their permission first.
Open the app, log in to iCloud on the web, or utilize the Find My widget on macOS to see where your contacts are.
To find the widget for the last option, open Applications.
To turn on or off your location sharing on your iPhone, press your avatar at the bottom of the Find My screen.
The settings screen also displays your current location and allows you to opt-in or out of receiving some location-related notifications.
Geofencing is another useful feature to be aware of. When you tap on someone who is sharing their location with you,
the Find My app allows you to set up notifications for when they leave a specific area (like school) or enter a specific area (like the bar where everyone is supposed to be).
Even if you can see where they are, you’ll need their permission to use this feature.
GLYMPSE WOULD LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU ABOUT YOUR LOCATION
You have a lot of location apps to pick from if Google and Apple don’t meet all of your demands, or if you need to share with a friend who uses a different platform.
Glympse is one of the most complete and capable, and it’s available for free on Android and iOS.
Glympse is fantastic for quick, personalized sharing with folks who don’t all have the same phone or use the same apps.
Using your phone’s built-in mapping app, you can obtain fast instructions to everyone you’re tracking,
and it’s also useful for one-off events where everyone needs to be on time.
The following is how it works: Glympses, as they’re known, are location sharing that may be sent via email or text message.
If the recipient is on a computer or phone that does not have Glympse installed, the glympse will appear on their web browser instead, but just for the time specified.
To broadcast your location, you don’t even need a Glympse account, though connecting your social media accounts helps (so you can quickly share a glympse over a Twitter direct message, for example).
Glympse, like Google Maps and Find My, provides you a lot of choices over who and for how long you disclose your location.
It also has some cool added features, such as private groups where everyone in the group can see where everyone else is,
which is useful for family gatherings where everyone is going to the same restaurant.
From your kids to your soccer squad, you can check who is sharing their location on the map and add them to a favorites list for quick access.
Use the lock symbol to keep the view fixed if you’re following a large group of people at once.
Otherwise, as the contacts you’re following move around, the map will scroll.
The option to apply public tags to your glympses is another feature of note.
The tags function similarly to Twitter hashtags, in that they alert the rest of the world that you’re at a music festival or sporting event.
Because anybody can see public tags, you could create one for your running club’s annual 10K to allow everyone to track the race online.
Simply skip the public tags if you want to keep your location hidden.
USE INSTANT MESSAGING APPS TO SHARE YOUR LOCATION
Many instant messaging programs, in addition to the ones we’ve already discussed, have location-sharing features.
They allow you to inform a single contact or a group of contacts where you are in the world.
This strategy works best if you use one of these apps for the majority of your event planning and social interactions.
It makes sense to utilize it for location sharing in that instance.
Messages, Apple’s default messenger, has a feature that allows you to share your location.
Tap the name of the contact or group in any discussion and pick info.
After then, you have two choices: Select Send My Current Whereabouts for a one-time, static share, or Share My Location to track your location in real-time using Apple Maps.
The recipients will be given a link or a pin on a map to follow.
Facebook Messenger, of course, provides a similar feature: In the app for Android or iOS, tap the + icon at the bottom of any conversation thread, then tap the location icon (an arrowhead pointing up and to the right).
You can submit a one-time, fixed location or share live updates of your location for a specific period.
WhatsApp (Android, iOS), which is owned by Facebook, also has location sharing.
While in a discussion, tap the attachment icon (looks like a paperclip), and Location will show as one of the possibilities.
You may notify your friends where you’ll be waiting for them by tapping on a list of nearby locations.
If you’re on the go, tap Share live location to let your friends know where you are for 15 minutes, one hour, or eight hours, and add a description before hitting the send button.
You can stop sharing whenever you want, right from the conversation, if you don’t want people to know where you are.
We can’t cover every messaging app out there, but if you use one that isn’t included here, it may have a location-sharing feature built-in.
There are plenty of options to let people know where you are, thanks to native apps, third-party apps, and instant messaging add-ons.
THE AUTHOR IS DAVID NIELD