For years, smartphones have had GPS tracking built in, which has resulted in several apps that provide location tracking.
I would have found it extremely interesting to covertly track my kids whereabouts when they were teenagers; but extremely horrifying if my parents were able to track my location as a teenager.
I’ve had the Find My Friends app on my phone for a few years and you likely have it too, since it started to come pre-installed with iOS 9. Like the Find My iPhone feature, I’m grateful it’s available in situations when I need it.
Here are some of the ways I use Find My Friends:
- Trying to find someone in a crowded location, like a festival or concert.
- Locating someone at a ski resort when you get to the bottom of the run and they’re nowhere to be found.
- Letting my host know my location so they can time dinner, and I don’t need to fiddle with my phone in the car.
- Picking up someone at the airport and tracking their location as they get off the train and pick up their bags.
- Taking my grandson on a road trip across the country, with anxious parents serving as co-pilots back home.
I’m sure that you can come up with a list of creative uses for this app that doesn't involve illegal activities, like stalking.
Since Find My Friends only works when you have Wi-Fi or Cellular service, it’s not ideal in all conditions. Also, the person you’re trying to find needs to meet these conditions:
- They want to be found.
- Their iPhone is turned on and charged.
- They also have an iPhone.
You may be thinking it’s an invasion of privacy, but since both people need to consent before being tracked, it’s great to use when you really need to find someone. And unlike sending repeated texts with your location, the app represents each of you as dots that get closer as you get nearer.
With Find My Friends, your location is sent only when someone requests to see your location. It isn’t transmitted on a regular interval. You get to decide if you’ll track for an hour, the rest of the day, or indefinitely. Plus it's easy to stop sharing your location at any time.
It’s a good idea to get familiar with the app before you need to use it. Here’s how to get started with Find My Friends:
Step 1 - Open Find My Friends.
Find the Find My Friends app with the outline of two people with a yellow background. Enter your Apple ID and password, then select “Sign In” under the login fields to proceed.
Step 2 - Allow the app to use your current location.
After signing in, say ‘OK’ when asking your permission to use your current location. The app will identify your current location using the GPS of your iPhone.
Step 3 - Find a friend to locate.
Select ‘Add' on the top right to add friends you want to find using their name, phone number or email. Selecting ‘Send’ will send a request to your friend to allow tracking.
Step 4 - View your friend’s location.
When your friend accepts your request, you will receive a confirmation. You can then select how long you'd like to share.
Step 5 - Get directions to your friend’s location.
Select 'More' next to your friend's name for more information about their location, including driving or walking directions.
If you’re like me, this is an app that you will appreciate having on your phone. I don't use it every day, but I like having it ready to use when I need it.
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