Google’s Trusted Contacts helps family keeps tabs on you — if you want them to


Feel unsafe walking home from work alone late at night? Well, now your smartphone can escort you.

Google has released a new app that allows you to share your location with family and friends, or lets you check in on their location. The app is meant to be used as a safety app, for when people are either lost or feel like they are in danger, but has other use cases, as well.

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What else does it do? Alexandra Arici has some more details:

The app invites you to add up to 50 “trusted contacts” to your inner circle…Trusted contacts can see if you are online or whether you have been moving around. In case you are currently offline or out of battery, the app will display your last location.

The app can be useful in more mundane situations too. Let’s say you are meeting a co-worker somewhere…The app allows him/her to…watch you in real time as you arrive to the meeting point.

The app works vice-versa too. Tap it to open Google Maps on your phone and watch you contacts move around…in a form of a dot.

Overall, the app sounds good. Are there any concerns about it? Alan Henry raises some good points:

The feature…[is] super useful from a safety perspective, make no mistake…However, as with any location-sharing feature…privacy comes into play as well. Abusive spouses and partners could easily misuse this tech to spy on their victims, and force them to share their location at all times so they can watch their every move. Similarly, there’s the…grey area of parents using tech like this to track kids…It’s a double-edged sword, and a complicated issue.

Aside from potential privacy concerns, are there any complaints? JRomeo has one:

Only problem is that if I want to know where one of my family members [is], I have to wait 5 minutes before I know…… Why not allow the app to give permanent permission to someone?

So who can get the app? Jaikumar Vijayan is in the know:

The app…is currently available to Android users who can download it from Google Play Store. Google will release an iOS version of the app as well, but has not said when it plans to do so.

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