The new feature is a lot like Apple’s Find My Friends in that it allows you to share your location with friends and family so you can hopefully get in touch with each other in the real world. Nearby Friends will also send you push notifications to let you know when a group of pals just happen to be close by.
A similar ‘Find Friends Nearby’ feature was rolled out by Facebook in 2012 but was quickly pulled, but Facebook swears this Nearby Friends will hit iOS and Android in the next few weeks.
Facebook mentions that the entire feature is opt-in: first you have to turn in on, then you can only see friends’ proximity if you choose to share it with them, and vice versa.
Precise locations can also be shared with friends for set periods of time – like say you just want friends to know where you’re going to be at in the park for the next hour. It can also be turned on and off whenever you want so you don’t have to worry about friends stalking you all week.
Privacy concerns to one side, I like how the feature can be automatic, unlike Find My Friends which needs manual intervention to set alerts.
Find my Friends is a fantastic little app made by Apple although you have to download it from the App Store as it’s not built into the operating system.
The purpose of the app is that you can subscribe to and share your GPS position to your friends and family, so that every time you access the app, you can see at a glance where all your friends and family are on a map, anywhere in the world which can be super useful.
For people who are not familiar with this app, there are going to be a percentage of users who will be immediately turned off by their pre-misconceptions of user privacy or ‘I don’t want everyone to know where I am!’ – Apple is not Google – There is a strict 2-way authentication service in place that will prompt you to allow your location to be shared with the person who has requested it. This works the other way for when you send an ‘invite’ to a friend or family member who has the app installed on their iPhone or iPad, they will also be prompted to allow you to see their location data. You only have to do this once and you can turn off or revoke the access at any time. As Apple states “With Find My Friends, you can choose when you want to be located, by whom and for how long. It’s all up to you.”
You can even set up alerts so that the app will notify you with a push notification when your chosen person arrives or leaves a particular destination – this is particularly helpful if you are expecting a family member home soon or are wishing to contact someone as soon as they leave that particular place. When you tap on ‘Notify’ you can even expand the radius of the geo-fence in case it alerts you too soon of the person’s apparent exit.
Since iOS 7 was introduced, the app has been changed from it’s early version so that now, it is much more user friendly and simpler to use. Siri also integrates with the app so you can tell Siri “Where’s ……” and Siri will source the information from the app in the background and let you know it’s findings.
Quick tip: If you add a passcode to your iPhone or iPad, then the app won’t ask for your password each time you access it.
It would be great if a future version of the app added the ability to have repeating alerts so you didn’t have to manually set an alert each time.
Find my friends is fantastic app from Apple that is super useful for parents and loved ones and is a great companion app to Find my iPhone which the idea clearly came from.
The app is free and you can download it here.