After relaunching the Stories-like WhatsApp Status gimmick several months earlier this year, another feature from Facebook is making its way to the popular encrypted messaging app. Now WhatsApp users can begin sharing their location in real time with friends.
The feature called Live Location should be rolling out starting Tuesday, Oct. 17, to iOS and Android versions of WhatsApp. By contrast, Facebook rolled out temporary location sharing via Messenger back in March after years of experiments within the Messenger and Facebook apps.
"Whether you're meeting up with friends, letting loved ones know you're safe, or sharing your commute, Live Location is a simple and secure way to let people know where you are," WhatsApp said in a blog post.
How To Share Your Location With WhatsApp Friends
To share a location with anyone in the contacts list, simply open up a chat thread with a person or group. Under "Location" in the "attach" button, there'll be a new option to "Share Live Location." Users can set how long they want to share their location, and recipients can even view the sender's specific location on a map in real time. This map will show other people's respective locations as well, but only if they shared it in the same thread.
WhatsApp assures its users that like many of its in-app features, sharing locations involves end-to-end encryption, which is just a fancy way of saying that absolutely no one — besides the sender and the recipients — can view WhatsApp messages, locations, and other sensitive data. The included timer feature in Live Location also appears to be an added security measure. Users can choose to let the timer expire or they can stop sharing their location anytime.
Live Location Sharing
WhatsApp and, in turn, Facebook, aren't the first apps to incorporate some form of location sharing. Both Snapchat and Foursquare also let users do the same thing, although as TechCrunch notes, real-time location sharing seems best fitted for a messaging platform such as WhatsApp.
Perhaps the clearest benefit of live location sharing is making sure a friend gets home safely or seeing how far away participants of a meeting or get-together are from the venue. It's easy, it's intuitive, and it's secure, as WhatsApp claims, so there are really no complaints here.