Messaging platform WhatsApp has recently announced that it will be rolling out a new feature that will allow users of the platform to share their location with their friends in real-time.
The feature is called Live Location, and will give users the option to send their location to their friends in order to arrange a meet up if they are nearby, or as an alternative way to show others that the user has arrived at their destination safely.
WhatsApp first made plans for the feature back in February this year, although nothing has been mentioned since.
The Facebook-owned company has said that it will be encrypted, and will allow users to have control over who they can share their location with, and for how long it is shared. As the service is in real-time, should the user be on the move, the map sent to the other contact will update for as long as it is live. This differs to WhatsApp’s current location sharing feature, which only allows users to share a static location with their contacts.
This is not the first app that has introduced a live location tracker this year. Google announced a similar feature within its Google Maps platform in March this year, but at the forefront of this type of feature was photo-messaging app Snapchat, which introduced Snap Maps in June.
Snapchat came under some heavy criticism for Snap Maps, which shares the user’s location constantly to all their contacts once enabled in the in-app map. Furthermore, the accuracy of Snapchat’s feature was frighteningly accurate, causing widespread panic and fears over privacy – especially with Snapchat’s primary audience being the younger generations.
Unlike Snapchat, Live Location will only actively share the user’s location on a temporary basis and only to certain, selected contacts. This, combined with WhatsApp’s encryption, should ease any privacy concerns.
Once Live Locations has been fully rolled out worldwide, users will be able to access the feature from within any chat with an individual person or a group. To access the function, users will need to select the ‘Location’ option and ‘Share Live Location’ from within the conversation. At this point, users will need to specify the length of time they wish the location tracker to be active before it is sent.
If multiple users within a group choose to send their location at the same time, each separate user will become visible on a single map, making it easier for users to see.
It is set to be rolled out on both iOS and Android versions of the app in the “coming weeks”. WhatsApp is also believed to be testing a number of new potential features, including the ability to send and recall messages after they have been sent.