Today Apple announced Find My Friends, an app that can help users find the people they know through the iPhone without all that messy back and forth of texting:
“Where are you?”
“By the hot dog stand.”
“Which hot dog stand?”
“The one near the big tree”
If this app sounds familiar, it is. Remember Google Latitude? It’s pretty much the same concept: locating your friends via the GPS in their phones. Remember the biggest criticism of Latitude? How it’s very stalker-y? How most people don’t want their friends to be able to locate them at all times?
Apple has brought some improvements to the table, such as the ability to turn off location sharing at a specific time. If you know the party will end at 7pm, set it to turn off then. Or whenever. There are also temporary options, so you don’t have to go in and change everything for every different situation. And “simple” privacy controls.
As much flack as this and other similar services like Latitude get, it can be a useful tool for keeping track of your family members. Like your kids. You can look at your phone and know that your kid got from school to daycare safely. Or make sure he or she is actually at the mall like they said and not down by the river checking out that van.
Maybe it would be useful in a friend-finding situation, but everyone would need to have it on and also have an iPhone. This is easier to control with families.
Overall, it’s a nice feature. And, just like Latitude, you can shut it off if you don’t want it.