Remember the glory days of the pre-smartphone era, when the only things you did with your handset besides calling people were texting and maybe playing Snake? Those were the days, back when you’d be planning to meet up with friends and were able to promise yeah, yeah, I’m on my way when you know good and well you were still nursing a bag of Cheetos and sitting on the couch. Heck, I was as guilty of that as anyone. I’m on my way. I’m about to leave. I’ll be there in a minute. Now here we are, with Google Maps but the latest smartphone application to make it super-simple to share your live location with any contact you want. So that they can follow along, watching the icon that is you slowly snaking along the road the way spies and such do in the movies when they’re tracking someone. Not to cast this in some sort of anti-privacy light, it’s just — no more “I’m on my way.” Tap. Let me actually see where you are. (Sigh.)
At the risk of sounding like an oldster, there’s certainly plenty of utility in Google Maps’ improved live sharing capability that the company outlined in a blog post today. Going on a long trip, say, for work. Quick tap, and your loved one can follow along. In that post, Google Maps product manager Samuel Mclean explains that such sharing is being improved on the Android version of the app and is also making its way to iOS. “After you’ve started navigating to a destination,” he explains, “tap on the ˄ button and then on ‘Share trip progress.’ From here you’ll be able to share your live location, route, and ETA with all your favorite contacts. Today’s update also allows for sharing across 3rd party apps like Facebook Messenger, Line, WhatsApp, and more — so you can communicate with friends on the platforms you prefer. Once your journey ends, you’ll automatically stop sharing your location.”
The improvements are available starting today, with more refined journey-sharing now available to encompass driving, walking and cycling navigation on both Android and iOS. Download the latest Google Maps update from the Play Store or iOS App Store to make sure you’re on the current version.
To be sure, this feature has been available on other navigation apps like Waze for a while now. It certainly makes Google Maps a little more useful, even if it nixes your ability to try to pretend you’re on your way when — well, you know the rest.