A big comeback of location sharing. First Google and now Facebook. Who will be next?

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Location-sharing is not a new idea. Remember Foursquare, Gowalla, and Google Latitude among others? Most of these services don’t exist anymore. The value proposition that they offered was clear, but the idea was a little bit ahead of its times and many people were not ready to challenge their privacy comfort zone. In the end, these services were too niche, with too small userbase to be a sustainable business.

In the meantime, our privacy boundaries have been slowly pushed to the next level. It seems that big players have noticed it and they decided to reintroduce location-sharing on a large scale. But this time they’ve learned their lesson, and they focus on making it useful and solving some real-life problems rather than do it for the sake of it.

Two weeks ago, Google announced a new feature that allows you to share your exact location in Google Maps for a given amount of time with your friends.

Last week Facebook revealed that it followed the same path and released a very similar feature on Messenger. Users can now share their real-time whereabouts with friends using ‘Live Location’ icon in the app. Clicking on it will allow users to broadcast their location for 60 seconds.

A similar feature has also been introduced in beta to Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

It is clear that sharing your whereabouts just for the sake of doing so, is not bringing any value to most of the users. But sharing your location in a controlled amount of time and only with people for whom this information is useful, makes a lot of sense. Since the information is not shared with the whole world or all your friends, most of the privacy issues are tackled.

With all these new features from Google, Facebook and others to come, location-sharing is definitely not cool anymore. But it is finally useful.

Wiktor Kostrzewski

What defines me is a mix of curiosity combined with a bit of of fun. I believe that the spatial data and the technologies associated with them are what I’m looking for. Fortunately for us, we live in times where the exchange of digital information blossoming before our eyes. That is why, I am here with you, sharing my fascination with all that is “geo”, because I know that the interaction with others is what shapes me every day.