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.
- As mentioned above, you need to explicitly accept an invitation to be followed.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.