As a chronically late person, one of my worst habits is telling people I’m late to meet that I’m “just around the corner” when in reality I’m not even close (five blocks counts, right?)
But those days could soon be behind me. Google just unveiled a new location sharing feature that allows friends to share their location inside of Maps and it could help users keep their obnoxiously-late friends accountable.
Set to roll out “soon” across Google Maps on iOS, Android and the web, the new location sharing feature lets you send your location to friends while you’re navigating to a destination so they can keep tabs on your whereabouts (and know when you’re lying about how close you really are.)
Once the feature rolls out, you’ll be able to access a new location sharing from within a new menu while you’re on the way to a destination. Select “share trip progress” to choose which friends you want to see your location.
The friends you’ve shared with are then sent a link that opens inside Google Maps and shows your location as you finish your trip. As soon as you arrive at your destination, or close Google Maps, the link will no longer work and friends will stop being able to see where you’re at.
Likewise, there’s also a slightly more passive location-sharing feature that allows you to broadcast your whereabouts to specific friends for a preset period of time (or indefinitely.)
If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because Google has tried this idea before. In 2009, the company launched a a location-based social app called Latitude, which allowed friends to view each other’s locations on a map. The app was shut down in 2013.
“Obviously there’s a lot of similarities between the real time location sharing product in Maps and what was Latitude. I think we’ve added a lot here in terms of control,” says product manager Ben Greenwood, noting that the new location sharing features were designed more for short-term use than the “always-on” location sharing that was the default in Latitude.
Still, there are all kinds of potential privacy concerns that arise when you talk about real-time location sharing. If the link attached to your location gets into the wrong hands, for instance, or if you forget that you’ve opted to share with someone.
But Greenwood points out that location sharing between friends is already happening inside of other apps, like messaging, so having the extra capability inside Maps shouldn’t be much different.
Besides, it might even help your friends stay on time.