Apple introduced Find My Friends ahead of iOS 5 last year. The iOS app allows you to see where your friends and family are located around you. Apple pitched the service as something for a family to use at Disneyland, but honestly, it feels more like a tool for digital stalking.
My colleague John Brownlee highlighted a major issue with Facebook privacy earlier today, so it’s only fitting that we take a look at another app from the same vein. Although you won’t be able to stalk random women with Find My Facebook Friends, you will be able to see your friends on a map. The only difference is that Find My Facebook Friends takes user privacy pretty seriously. If only the app was less buggy.
Before we go any farther, I think it’s interesting that Find My Facebook Friends was rejected twice by Apple because the name and look of the app was so similar to Find My Friends. Perhaps the developers could have come up with a more creative name, but I see why they wanted to call it something so close to Apple’s own app. Terrible ripoffs of popular App Store apps are approved daily (see Temple Jump and Numbers With Friends), but don’t you dare try to ride the coattails of an Apple app. At least we know that the App Store review team hasn’t totally fallen asleep.
The whole concept of Find My Friends and Find My Facebook Friends feels weird to me. I don’t particularly care to know that my good friend has left his apartment to get groceries, and I certainly don’t want others to know where my iPhone is at all times. I can see when something like this could be useful, like Apple’s example of a family on vacation. But for 90% of life, I don’t have a reason to use Find My Facebook Friends or anything like it.
The app lets you customize who you share your location with on Facebook, and you can use Facebook lists for a curated experience. For it all to work, every person involved will need to have Find My Facebook Friends installed on their iPhone or iPad. Proximity alerts can also be set to let you know when a certain someone (deranged ex?) gets close to you. The whole interface is map-based like Apple’s Find My Friends, but the difference is that you can literally stalk watch someone move on the map in real time. Never has your buddy’s car trip to Taco Bell been so exciting.
I wish I could say that Find My Facebook Friends is a well done app, because it does look nice. Sadly, I found the app to be extremely buggy to the point that I had to uninstall it after less than 12 hours. Responsiveness was laggy and the app froze multiple times on my iPhone 4S. Find My Facebook Friends uses your device’s Location Services (a part of iOS that allows an app to interact with your device’s GPS) to track your location. I installed the app in the late afternoon, went to a show, and checked it a few hours later to find that my battery life was at 2%. The little purple arrow icon in the iPhone’s status bar told me that Find My Facebook Friends had been running in Location Services and unnaturally hogging my system resources. That was a no no. I’ve seen multiple reviews in the App Store noting the same types of problems.