Google Maps is rolling out a new feature that lets you send your location and ETA to friends in real time.
The tool, announced Wednesday, can share a real-time location and trip progress when you’re navigating with Google Maps. You can share your real-time location with Google Contacts or send a link using other messaging apps. The tool prompts you to set how long you want to share your whereabouts with a friend.
The sharing tool will be available on the Google Maps apps for Android and iOS. It isn’t clear when location sharing will be available to all users; Google says it will begin “rolling out soon worldwide.” I wasn’t able to pull up location sharing on my Google Maps app in Seattle but it appears to be available in some regions.
Real-time location sharing is nothing new (Seattle-based Glympse has been offering it for years) but big tech companies have historically been wary of the technology because of the creepiness factor. They don’t want to alienate users with anything that seems like it could violate their privacy or safety. That’s likely the reason Google built an expiration time into its location sharing features. This way, users won’t forget they’ve shared their location with someone.
As for third-party apps that provide location sharing to those who want it, Google could be a tough competitor. But Glympse, for one, isn’t shaking in its boots.
“The surprise isn’t that others have jumped into the space we created, only that it’s taken so long,” said Glympse CEO Bryan Trussel. “In the past few years Uber, Apple, Lyft, (and now Google Maps) have added some variation of real-time location sharing to their apps. As this has happened, we have seen our usage increase at a stronger pace and fully expect that trend to continue.”