I have recently discovered a new useful smartphone feature: share your own location via messenger with others.
“Why do I need this feature?” will you now ask.
Trust me and continue reading.
Problems Before Smartphones
It is not normal for my generation to use smartphones extensively. I am Generation X, people that are born in the late 60ies and 70ies of the last century. Wireless communication was only available to those who have a radio amateur license, which I have. And computers were only available to those who really wanted to have one, which I did. But the average people did not have access to this technology.
Our generation has learned to live with these limitations. It was completely normal for us to arrange a meeting at an unknown place two days in advance, via a landline phone. Even people who had never met before could find each other. One could wear a rose in one’s buttonhole, or tuck a newspaper under one’s arm, and you could find an otherwise unknown person among hundreds of people in a crowd, within minutes.
It was a very common training session during army time to send out two groups of men into unknown territory, with the goal to meet at a specific time at a very specific arbitrarily chosen location, a few hours of walking away from two different starting points. We had our ways of doing this, and with ample training this is possible even during night time and without radio communication.
The Smartphone Changes All
That was an eye-opener: A few months back I was meeting two friends of mine at the Oktoberfest in Munich, the biggest beer festival on earth. With 0.5 million visitors per day.
One of my friends sent me his so-called “live location” via Whatsapp. I could then see on my smartphone map where he was, and even where he was moving to. It was very easy for me to walk over to him, through a huge crowd, and to find him.
The same thing yesterday evening. A friend of mine wanted to pick me up from a German airport. He sent me his live location and I sent him mine. That was an advantage because I could stay inside the airport building while it was 3°C outside, with wind and rain. One minute before he arrived at the airport – I could see that on my smartphone map – I stepped out of the building and at the same time he stopped his car at the arrival curbside. Priceless!
This is How it Works
Sharing your live location works in almost all messenger apps. Simply open a chat window with the person with whom you want to share your location. Then click on the little paper clip symbol in the chat window and select “location”. The smartphone will give you more specific instructions, and you can chose whether you want to share a one-time location or a live location. You can also set a time limit for transmitting your location.
Watch the following video for more explanations
The live location feature works similarly in Facebook Messenger, Google Maps, Snapchat, and many other messenger apps.
Further Applications for Shared Locations
The live position feature is not only about facilitating to meet other people. You can use this feature also for surveying your own private sphere, using an old smartphone.
If you have kids then you can place that old smartphone in their backpack, with the live location feature switched on. That helps to locate them again when you attend a large event and lose sight of them.
Or imagine that you borrow your car to someone that you don’t fully trust. Put your old smartphone into the glove department, with the live position feature switched on. Google Maps can share the live position for 3 full days.
There are surely more sinister applications for sharing the live position of a smartphone. The sky is the limit.
Martin “smart phone” Schweiger