Everything You Need to Know About The Evil, Useful Find My Friends App [FAQ]

Everything You Need to Know About The Evil, Useful Find My Friends App [FAQ]

A handy way to link up with friends? You bet. Evil? Quite possibly. Lame? That’s what a friend of mine thought. Find My Friends, Apple’s newest app, is a new location tool that can be used to great effect — or become one huge, scary headache.

Here’s an FAQ with all you need to know about navigating safely through the app.

What exactly does Find My Friends do?

Just like location services on your iDevice’s Google Maps app, it can show you where other people are — assuming they give you permission. Each friend you’re tracking will show up on the map as a separate dot, with distance in miles by their name. It’ll automatically refresh as they move, and you can even get directions to their location

I’m not sold. Why do I want to download Find My Friends?

Maybe you want to meet up with a buddy, but you don’t have directions. Of course, you could always ask him to share his location via Google Maps; but what if he’s barhopping, on the move? FMF is the way to go. Or let’s say you’re a group of people for a special event — FMF is the perfect tool to keep track of your team. Got kids? FMF gives you another option to keep your children under tabs.

Of course, everyone involved will need an iDevice running iOS 5 and an iCloud account.

Ok, how do I get started?

First, you’ll need to download the free app. Once that’s done, sign into your iTunes account.

Now you’ll need some friends to stalk track. Use the add button under the “All” tab. If your friend already has FMF installed it’ll show up in his app as a request; if he doesn’t have the app installed , he’ll get an email asking him to download the app. Once he’s accepted your invitation, you should see his email address pop up, along with his location — though it may take a while for this to happen. To add his photo and name to your friend’s FMF entry, simply link it to his entry in your Contacts app.

Note that following isn’t necessarily a two-way deal — you can be following someone who isn’t following you, unless you’ve explicitly given them permission to follow you by accepting their invitation.

If you have several devices on the same account, be sure to check the one you want your friend to be able to track.

My iPad doesn’t have a GPS. Will it still work?

Yes — FMF will determine your position using the old-school location services feature, like the original iPhone did, by pinging you from a nearby router or cell tower.

Isn’t this whole thing kind of creepy though? How do I keep myself safe?

Yeah, it’s pretty creepy. But Apple seems to have understood that they’re dealing with a potentially dangerous tool, and have placed several layers of safeguards to try to make the whole thing as safe as possible.

  1. As mentioned above, you need to explicitly accept an invitation to be followed.
  2. If you want to become temporarily invisible, you can switch on “Hide from Followers” under the accounts tab, which will take you off grid until you switch it off again.
  3. It’s also easy to follow someone (or let them follow you) temporarily, using the “Temporary” tab. From here you can invite friends and set the location sharing to expire at a certain time. Once expired, the friends are removed completely from your FMF app.
  4. Finally, you’ll have to sign into the app each time you access it — unless you’ve turned on your device’s Passcode Lock (in the Settings app under General). This gives the people you’re tracking a margin of safety if someone other than you gets their hands on your device.
  • Comecon

    It’s basically Google Latitude (that has been out for a while now in App form on iOS, and even longer via Android or a web browser) with a better UI then…

  • Zacknormandin

    http://isolatez.com

    Free Stuff!
    Free iPod Touch, Free iPhone, Free iPad 2!
    Make Money Online!
    http://www.isolatez.com

  • John Neumann

    I still prefer the app Hey Where Are You (HWAY) http://niftybrick.com/heyway.h… Although I’m sure there are others that do similar things. 

  • John Neumann

    Maybe FMF will be better received when connected to Apple’s upcoming 3D mapping software and my friends can see me waving my arms in front of the pub with real-time zoomable satellite imagery. :D

  • prof_peabody

    I don’t see this as creepy at all, but rather incredibly useful.  There is also no evidence that it has been “poorly received.” 

  • Jrsnfd

    I just ran a Marathon in Chicago and I carried my iPhone 4s with me.  My wife was able to track me through the entire race and when it said that I was 0 miles away she new to start looking for me at the finish line.  It worked great.  We also had several other people with us that we were able to find after the event with with FMF in the huge mass of people after the event.  

  • David Butt

    Sounds very much like Glympse, a one – to – many location sharing application. It stops sending location information after a max of 4 hours, unless you reset it. I’ve found useful for workplace safety check-ins, and the same with a family member when vacationing. 

    FMF might work better for a group of people trying to congregate.

About the author

Eli MilchmanWhen he was eight, Eli Milchman came home from frolicking in the Veld one day and was given an Atari 400. Since then, his fascination with technology has made him an intrepid early adopter of whatever charming new contraption crosses his path — which explains why he's Cult of Mac's test editor-at-large. He calls San Francisco home, where he works as a journalist and photographer. Eli has contributed to the pages of Wired.com and BIKE Magazine, among others. Hang with him on Twitter.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in Apple, How-To, iOS, Software, Top stories | Tagged: , , , , , |