WhatsApp users can now share their live location with others even when the app is not actively used. Until now, users could share their location with friends and family, but that was mainly a static, one-time share.
In a blog post, WhatsApp says the feature can be used to organize a meeting with friends, and also keep loved ones posted about their whereabouts. Once the user decides to share the location, the option of selecting between the various time frames would pop up. A user is allowed to choose from one of the preset options – 15 minutes, 1 hour (default), and 8 hours.
“Live location is a way to share your location in a chat and the participants in that chat will then be able to see your real-time location as it updates on a map. [It’s] short-term in nature, it’s limited in duration,” WhatsApp product manager Zafir Khan told Gadgets 360. The company as of now has no plans to permanently share location with certain contacts.
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Although WhatsApp feels that it is a simple and secure way to inform people about their location, some would not like the idea of being watched. However, the feature would offer the flexibility of switching the location sharing service on and off, if they want. Further, those who go for the WhatsApp Location Sharing, the use of GPS will drain out the battery life, a major issue for those who are using lower-end or older devices.
Khan, however, notes that they have built the feature with the battery issue in mind. Accordingly, various optimizations have been done to minimize the impact on the battery even if the location sharing service is used for a long time, notes Mashable.
WhatsApp Location Sharing feature can be accessed by clicking the paperclip icon next to the chat box. The location would be sent in the form of chat on an individual, as well as, group chat. A user can look into the account privacy settings to know how many users are getting the location map. Also, if various users have shared the location, all locations will be visible on a single map.
“We give users control so they can stop sharing at any time and sharing a live location is just as secure as sending any other communications over WhatsApp in that it is end-to-end encrypted,” Khan said.
Major platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram and Google Maps have been offering such a feature for a long time. However, the Facebook-owned chat app has a relatively higher daily active user base compared to the other platforms. WhatsApp Location Sharing will be available on both Android and iOS, and will roll out in the coming weeks.
WhatsApp is working on some major updates to make the app faster and better. The recent location sharing service is an example of that. Also, a few days back, the company added a new feature to make it easier for users to change their phone numbers. It is as easy as clicking a button, and all the contacts will get notified about the new number.