Google has launched a new location-sharing app today that’s designed to let friends and family keep tabs on each other’s whereabouts.
With Trusted Contacts for Android, you can designate any of your contacts as “trusted,” meaning that those specific friends and family can see your activity status, as well as requesting your specific location. In terms of what’s meant by “activity status,” well, each contact will simply say something like “active recently,” thereby revealing that they have been moving around and are online.
However, your trusted contacts can also request to see where you are, specifically. This could be used in situations where you’re waiting for your significant other to return home and you need to know when to start cooking, or it could be used more in line with Google’s intentions, vis-à-vis to check that someone is safe. You are able to deny a request, but if you don’t respond within five minutes, the app automatically shares your location.
Alternatively, you can proactively elect to share your location if you’re lost or simply want someone to know where you are. The app also works offline, insofar as other people can see your last-known location before you lost connection or your phone ran out of battery.
For the app to work, you will need to sign in with your Google account credentials and activate your location history — this is a Google feature that creates a map of everywhere you go. So if you don’t want Google tracking this, then you are best looking elsewhere.
It’s worth noting here that there are myriad apps similar to Trusted Contacts out there already. Glympse has offered something similar for a number of years, while messaging giant Line launched a standalone location-sharing app last year. Elsewhere, France’s Zenly recently raised $22 million for its location-sharing app that has been gaining traction around Europe, and there have been many others, too. And yes, Google used to have a similar service called Latitude, which it shuttered back in 2013.
By placing its focus on personal safety, however, Google is targeting a very specific and sizable segment of society: worriers. Indeed, this app will likely prove popular with parents who wish to know that their kids are okay without having to call them, or wives and husbands concerned about their other half’s late-night journey home from a work night out.