If you have friends who resolutely claim they’re five minutes away but end up reaching hours later, WhatsApp might have a solution.
WhatsApp has said it’s rolling out a new feature that allows users to share their location in real-time. WhatsApp currently let users share their static locations, but now users will now be able to let friends and family track them live. The feature is likely to be useful for people who might want to share their commute, or help groups of friends coordinate a meeting.
WhatsApp says the location sharing feature has end-to-end encryption, and users will have control over how long they share their location. The update will be rolled out on both Android and iOS over the coming weeks, and users will be able to either share their location with a single person, or with a group. If multiple people in a group share their locations, all locations will be visible in a single unified map. Users can choose to stop sharing their location anytime they want.
This could be quite handy, and is a natural extension of the static location sharing feature that WhatsApp already provides. Live location sharing has become quite popular over the last few months. Startups like Hypertrack have raised large sums of money to provide location tracking in business environments, letting companies and users track deliveries and . For consumers, WhenHub, founded by Dilbert creator Scott Adams, provides a similar solution where users can track their friends.
But the introduction of this feature by WhatsApp will make it instantly popular in the mainstream. WhatsApp has over a billion users, and live location tracking will likely become a standard feature for messaging apps of the future. And there are lots of cool ways to play around with it — apart from tracking their friends, users can track people for meetings, and even track servicepeople and deliveries. It remains to be seen how the WhatsApp community ends up using the live location feature — the possibilities are quite exciting.