Last week was pretty intense for Google Maps. A few days ago they announced a handy feature which allows saving location of a parking spot. Yesterday, the company unveiled a pretty awesome functionality for their maps, where you can share your real-time whereabouts with friends or colleagues. In my opinion, this is not only a convenient but strategic feature, that will boost user engagement of the product.
Why is that? Imagine that you are in a crowded space, or are late for a meeting. In such situations, you would like to share information about where you are and when you reach your destination. In this concept, you will open up the application and choose to share your exact location and trip progress with one or many people. Interestingly the app lets you set how long your location will be visible to others. Your selected friends will receive a link that opens inside Google Maps and shows your geographic position on the map. After you reach your destination point, you won’t broadcast your location anymore.
For those who are worried that their privacy might be at risk, there are reminders within the app to let them know that they are still broadcasting their whereabouts. Obviously, they will be able to stop it at any time. Jen Fitzpatrick, who leads Google Maps said: “This is not a new concept, this is about making it simple, accessible and giving users a lot of control and privacy”.
I agree that the idea is not new. In 2009, the company launched a location-sharing app called Latitude which offered the same features. Unfortunately, it was closed due the low interest and lack of functionality (compared to FourSquare) on August 9, 2013. The major difference between the new feature in Google Maps and Latitude lies in term of control. The current idea was designed for short term use instead of the “always-on” location sharing, that was used in Latitude. Google announced that the feature is rolling out “soon” for iOS, Android, and the web. To understand how it works, check out this video. I can’t wait for the release!