Google Maps will soon let users on Android and iOS share their real-time location with friends, family, and colleagues — all while trying to keep a mindful eye on privacy. When the feature rolls out “soon worldwide,” you’ll be able to slide out the side menu or just tap the blue dot marking where you are and choose “share location.” From there, you choose who you want to be share your precise location with and for how long. That interval ranges from 15 minutes to 3 days. There’s also an “until you turn it off” setting, in which case Google will go as far to email you reminders that you switched it on.
Maps will share a link via your preferred messaging app to a map, where the recipient can monitor your real-time progression to brunch or an important appointment. Anyone you share with can keep track of your location on Android, iPhone, and mobile / desktop web browsers.
Google is quick to note that you can turn off real-time location sharing at any moment — including before the timer you originally chose runs out. Also, an icon appears above the compass on your own screen to remind you whenever real-time sharing is active with anyone. Real-time location sharing can also be done from the turn-by-turn navigation screen. When used that way, sharing will automatically end once you’ve reached your chosen destination.
Similar features already exist in the Google-owned Waze app. And Google itself has a fairly new Trusted Contacts app that allows real-time location sharing, but here the company is baking something similar into Maps. Neither feels terribly far off from the old Google Latitude days.
In the last few weeks alone, Google has been adding a ton of functionality to Maps like useful parking spot reminders and the ability to share your favorite local spots with friends. The who-can-top-who war with Apple Maps rolls on.