Google will soon start rolling out real-time location sharing for users of its Maps app for iOS and Android, offering a feature similar to Apple's Find My Friends, or Google's own defunct Latitude.
People will be able to access the new feature by tapping on the blue dot for their current location, or else opening up the main menu, Google said on Wednesday. The app will prompt users to pick with whom to share, whether via their Google contacts or by creating a link that can be shared in messaging apps or email.
Maps will also ask users to set a time limit or to allow sharing indefinitely, for instance in the case of a spouse or family. Time restrictions can range from 15 minutes to 3 days — if a person chooses to make sharing indefinite, they'll still receive email reminders every few weeks.
Google is limiting link-based sharing to fixed times, given the potential for abuse if a URL ends up in the wrong hands.
A slightly different version of sharing will appear in Navigation mode. By tapping on the "More" button in the bottom-right, people will be able to share not just their current location but also their expected arrival time. Unlike the standard option, trip sharing will end automatically once a person reaches their destination.
Users will be able to reciprocate sharing, and see visible reminders that their location is being tracked. The feature is "rolling out soon worldwide," according to Google.
In recent times Apple has largely downplayed Find My Friends, which is separate from Apple Maps. The last major update came in September, when the company brought it to the Apple Watch.