Many of us are unaware that modern technology can track us, so you may feel like you don’t need to add anything else to the mix. But knowing the whereabouts of trusted friends and family can be useful at times, and that’s something you can do from your Android phone.
It’s worth saying at the outset that you’re in control of who can see you and when – and you can stop location sharing at any time if someone in your life goes from trustworthy to untrustworthy.
I’ve used it many times to find out where to meet someone or to check when guests are due so I know how much time I have left to clean. It can also be helpful for parents to know that their children are safe and where they should stay.
Location sharing via Google Maps
The most obvious choice for location sharing on Android is Google Maps, as it comes pre-installed (and is also available on the iPhone). There are other options you can try, which I’ll explain.
Location sharing can be a one-way or two-way arrangement, so if you want (and if they allow it) you can see other people without them seeing you. If you want to make your location visible, you’ll need to enable location tracking on your phone: From Settings in Android, tap Placethen enable use location Option.
To start sharing your location:
- Open Google Maps on your phone, and tap your Google Account avatar (top right).
- choose location sharing,
- Tap new share To start sharing your location with someone new.
- Your first decision is how long to share your location: Use , (plus) or , (minus) button to set the time period between 15 minutes and nine hours.
- choose until you turn it off If you want, this contact can see your location until you decide otherwise.
- Select a contact from the list of suggestions, or tap More To select a different contact.
Your chosen contact gets an alert in Google Maps saying you’re sharing your location with them. They’ll have the option to share their location back, but it’s not required. There’s no way to specifically request to see someone else’s location: they must either follow the steps above or respond via your location-sharing message.
The same location sharing The screen where you add new contacts also lists the people you’re currently sharing location data with – you’ll see the whereabouts of all these people on the map.
Tap a contact to zoom in on its exact location in the list below the map. You’ll also get an information card that tells you how far away they are from you, when their location was last updated, and their phone’s battery level (which could be why they’re ignoring your calls).
you can tap guidance To get directions from your current location to a contact or to stop Stop sharing your location with this particular person immediately. You can also set up notifications for a contact:
- In location sharing screen, tap the contact you want to notify.
- Tap Add Next to the notification title.
- Choose the location around which you want to base the notification, by accepting the suggestion from Google Maps or by tapping Add location,
- Choose whether you want to be notified when the contact arrives at this location, leaves this location, or both.
- Tap save And then save again. Your chosen contact will get an alert saying you’ve set up the notification, and the notifications themselves will be through Google Maps.
- tap on Notifications On the location-sharing screen to edit or delete information.
Keep in mind that if you’re using the Google Family Link app to monitor a child’s device, location monitoring is also an option on its own dedicated tab. You may find it more convenient for your children to use this app instead of Google Maps – Google has more information about this feature.
Sharing location using other apps
Other apps on your phone may also have some kind of location-sharing feature built in. For example, in WhatsApp, you can tap the paper clip icon at the bottom of a conversation, then tap Place To let someone know where you are for eight hours.
Locations can also be shared with your friends and family through Snap Map in Snapchat. pat down map pin icon (lower left) on the main screen to see where all your contacts are – or at least those contacts sharing their location with you. pat down gear icon To set which of your friends are able to see where you are, go up in the top-right corner.
In terms of dedicated location-sharing apps not made by Google, Glympse is the best I’ve seen. You get plenty of options to manage who can see your location and when, and you can even use it with people who don’t have Glympse installed on their phones. (They will be sent a link to a map on the web.)
Life360 is also good, but it’s primarily geared toward families. Along with providing location-sharing features (including location-based alerts) that you and your kids can use, the app also offers private messaging and device tracking features. It can also alert you if it thinks a family member has been involved in an accident using phone sensors, similar to Google’s personal safety app.