Apple yesterday introduced a new iPhone app called Find My Friends. As the name implies, the app lets users quickly see the location of friends who have agreed to have their geo-location data shared with a subset of trusted people.
What’s interesting, is that users can invite friends to share their location for a limited time, from a day up to a few weeks. This raises a number of interesting uses. For example, if you’re driving a few hours to see some friends, you can invite them to share your location so that they can help direct you along the way should you get lost.
Or, for example, imagine you’re at Disney World and are trying to meet up with some buddies who got separated from the pack. Simply invite them to share your location data and subsequently find each other on the map. Or maybe you’re travelling abroad with a friend and want to keep tabs on each other for the duration of a two-week adventure, Find My Friend seems to fit the bill.
Interestingly, a rumor that surfaced pre-Keynote claimed that the iPhone 4S will feature more “definitive GPS”. We mention this because GPS system’s don’t always pinpoint exact locations and some of the examples Eddy Cue used in his demonstration yesterday suggest that the feature will be highly specific. For example, Cue demoed how Find My Friends might help two parties meet up on a beach.
Luckily for Apple, I’m not a patent troll because I remember thinking of a similar idea a few years ago when trying, unsuccessfully, to locate a group of friends at an outdoor concert. As it turns out, directions like “We’re by the concession stand!” and “Just walk straight, you can’t miss us!” aren’t fool proof ways to navigate through a crowded and massive lawn.
In any event, the Find My Friends app also has built-in parental controls to alleviate some of the security considerations this app brings to the forefront.