The feature, announced after the addition of parking reminders to the beta version of the app, will be a very useful one once it rolls out due to its various potential uses. However, it also raises certain concerns on user privacy.
Google Maps Real-Time Location Sharing Feature
In the post on the official Google blog that announced the feature, Google Maps Engineering Manager Daniel Resnick said that users will soon be able to share their real-time location with their family, friends, and colleagues "in just a few taps."
To utilize the feature, users would need to open the Google Maps side menu or tap on the blue dot that represents their real-time location on the app. There will be a "Share Location" option, and tapping on it will then allow users to choose to who they would like to share their real-time location and for how long. Users will be able to share their real-time location with their Google contacts, or they can choose to copy and send a link that can be sent and accessed through various messaging apps.
Upon receiving the notification that a user has shared their location, the receiving user will be able to see their real-time location on their Google Maps app. Users sharing their location will also be shown an icon located above the compass on their own Google Maps app to remind them that they are doing so. Users who are sharing their location can choose to stop at any time.
Users will also receive the ability to send other users their real-time location during a trip. While on a trip to their destination, users can tap on "More" at the bottom of the navigation screen and choose the "Share Trip" option. By doing so, people who users shared their trip with will be able to follow the trip in real time. They will also be able to see the expected arrival time of the user, with the real-time location sharing to automatically stop as soon as the user arrives at his or her destination.
Applications For Google Maps Real-Time Location Sharing
"We're shifting from our job being mapping the world to our job being mapping your world," said Google VP of geo, local and maps Jen Fitzpatrick in a press roundtable, describing how the feature can be applied by users to their daily life.
With real-time location sharing, users will be able to easily find each other in unfamiliar or crowded places. The feature will also allow users to keep track of the travel of other users, to allow them to know when they could expect their friends or family members to arrive at their destination. Real-time location sharing does away with the need to send text messages or make calls to let others know where you are or how many minutes more they need to wait.
However, real-time location sharing also raises privacy concerns, ranging from parents and spouses requiring their loved ones to share their location at all times to abusers who will have another way of exerting dominance over their partners through the feature. It will be interesting to see how Google will address these concerns once the feature is rolled out.