Google Maps now lets you share your exact location with friends

google location sharing
Credit: Google

You know when you are on your way somewhere, and your friends keep texting you asking when you'll arrive? Or you are trying to meet up with people in a crowded venue and just can't find the people you are looking for?

It can get tedious to continually text back and forth with either your ETA or your exact location. But a new Google Maps feature will take over for you, and let your friends either know exactly where you are, or exactly when you'll arrive. So how does it work?

In IT Blogwatch, we're running late. 

What exactly is going on? Julia Love has some background:

Google announced...that it will revamp its popular maps app to allow users to share their locations...Within the next week, users worldwide will be able to share where they are in real time on devices running both...Android...and...iOS...The location-sharing feature is aimed at helping people find each other in crowded places, such as concerts and conferences.

And how does it work? Michael Liedtke explains:

Google believes the...tool will be a...convenient way for people to let someone know where they are without having to text or call...Maps users...activate the location-sharing feature by tapping a button near the search bar and then picking a person from their contact list to text with the information. If the recipient doesn't have the Google Maps app on their phone, it will text them a link to open the location on the map in a browser.
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The settings...allow users to determine how long their movements can be tracked each time a location is shared. If no time limit is selected, Google will periodically send people email reminders that they're still sharing their location.

Can it do anything else? Thorin Klosowski has those details:

More useful is sharing your ETA on a trip. To do this, start navigation, then tap...More...at the bottom of the screen. Tap Share Trip and select the friends you want to send your ETA to. You’ll stop sharing your location the second you arrive at your destination.

So what does all this mean for Google? Richard Nieva is in the know:

The announcement underscores the company's...ambition for Google Maps to be more than just a destination for maps and directions. With more than a billion users, it's become a tool for local recommendations, real-time info on how busy a restaurant is, and a cheat sheet to remember where you parked your car.

But are there any downsides to the new feature? Tess Townsend highlights a pretty big one:

Location sharing...could raise all kinds of privacy concerns. The links, for example, can be shared on to anyone else through a simple copy and paste, whether or not the original user intended their information to be known to a wider circle.
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Additionally...location sharing could be a problem in an abusive relationship where one person could demand the other keep the feature turned on, making it easier for them to track their whereabouts.

So, ultimately, does this make sense for everyone? Tony isn't so sure:

How nice for people who have friends.
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