During his keynote talk at Apple’s event in Cupertino this morning, Apple SVP of iOS software Scott Forstall unveiled a new feature that may sound familiar: ‘Find My Friends’, a map-based app that’ll let you see where your friends and family members are, provided they’ve opted into sharing their location with you.
Fire up the app and the location of each of these friends will be indicated by a purplish orb, which could come in handy if you’re trying to figure out how far someone has to go on their commute, or where they are at an amusement park.
Of course, the app sounds quite similar to Google’s Latitude, which has been doing the same thing since early 2009 (Latitude comes pre-installed alongside the Maps application on Android, though you have to opt into it). But Apple’s version includes some features that go a little further (and, once again, will compete with some existing startups).
First: there’s a way to share your location for a few hours at a time, with the feature automatically turning off at a specified hour (a service called Glympse was among the first to start doing this a couple of years ago). It’s a good idea, and one that helps cut back significantly on the creepy-factor associated with these persistant location sharing services.
And there’s a feature that’ll appeal to some parents: they can activate location tracking on their child’s phone, and use parental controls to ensure their kids can’t turn it off. This could be helpful for making sure younger, iPhone touting kids are safe, but it’ll probably lead to plenty of family debates between teens and their parents (my folks wouldn’t have ever tried to get me to use this, but if they did, I would’ve figured out a way to disable it).
That said, similar services, like Life 360, already exist — and Apple can now advertise the iPhone to parents as a way to keep tabs on their kids, which could sell plenty of iPhones.
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