When I attended my alma mater’s 100th homecoming earlier this month, I spent much of my tailgating time trying to locate my friends via text or phone call — too bad none of them had yet signed up for Apple’s new universal app Find My Friends.
Find My Friends is a separate app download from the iOS 5 upgrade, but requires its users to be running the latest OS as well as a registered iCloud account. Once you’re in the app, you’ll need to invite friends to view your location. This is done using email addresses from your phone’s contact list, but you can only add one friend to the form at a time (I really wish there were a batch option to save a few taps).
Once your friends accept your invitation, they’ll be able to see your location and you’ll be able to see theirs, either on a list or on a map. Although Apple boasts Find My Friends as being useful for locating family members, its important to note that the iCloud account restriction is tied to your Apple user ID. This means families that share an Apple ID won’t be able to accurately rely on the service.
I do like that Find My Friends offers a temporary sharing option. Users can invite specific people to an event. During the event, all invitees will be able to see each other’s locations, but when the event ends, your privacy will remain intact. This option still requires users to have iOS 5 and an iCloud account, but I could see myself using this feature much more often than having my location shared at all times. If you do opt for Find My Friends’ full sharing, there’s a toggle option to turn off your location sharing to all of your friends.
Find My Friends won’t be truly useful until your friends enable the service on their end, so you might have to wait a while to see how this app really works in your area.