WhatsApp, Facebook’s very own messaging service, will give its users a reason to continue using the service, and they call it the live location sharing.
We all know that sharing your current location with other users is already available in WhatsApp; however, this option is unvarying and offers a one-time share only. Its difference with the live location sharing is that it is capable of updating your current location in real time and you can do it even if WhatsApp is running in the background.
According to Zafir Khan, WhatsApp’s Product Manager, this latest feature is a way to share your location through chat and all the participants in that chat room can see your location while it updates on the map. He added that in nature, it is only short-term and the duration is limited.
WhatsApp live location sharing is available for both Android and iPhone devices. If you wish to share your current location in a chat, you just need to tap the Attach icon (Android) or the Plus icon (iPhone). You will then be asked to choose the duration of time, in which you want the share to be active. The default times are 15-min, 1hr, and 8hrs and you can only pick one from them. Khan said these durations were selected according to the times that people are most likely to use WhatsApp’s latest feature. They still have the option to share a static location, if they want to.
Users also have the option to manually stop the sharing live location data inside a chat at any time. The summary of all the chats you shared your live location can be found under the Account Privacy settings.
The live location shares can be seen in the WhatsApp chats and will appear as thumbnails, showing your initial location and the “Live Until” time. If you tap the “View Live Location,” it will bring you to a map view where you can see all the users who are currently sharing their live location in the chat. The map can also be switched to Satellite/Terrain view, which allows you to see the overlay of the live traffic data. This feature is quite helpful especially if you are waiting for someone.
Below the map, a list of names of all the users in chat can be viewed including the timestamp that shows the users’ latest location data. If you want to zoom in the location of a specific user, you just need to tap the name or profile picture on the map. You can tap the (i) button next to their names to communicate with them in WhatsApp.
For WhatsApp group, you can also see the group info and all the users that are sharing their location with the group at that given time. This is specifically helpful more active groups since you don’t need to scroll up to look for the original message where the user shared his or her location.
The implementation of WhatsApp’s live location sharing is similar to Telegram, with fewer options for the time durations. Facebook Messenger will allow the user to select the real-time locations with users, but only for one hour at a time. Apple’s iMessage also allow location sharing with users for an hour or until the end of the day; sometimes indefinitely, which is helpful when you are sharing your location anytime.
Google Maps also added the same feature earlier this year. Users are allowed to share their location for either one hour or permanently. It is using links to share the location, which can be shared with others you don’t know and therefore, this raises privacy issues.
Khan was asked if they are planning to add the live location sharing feature to WhatsApp permanently, but he replied that they are presently focusing on the short-term sharing use case and that they have no plans yet of expanding it to long-term sharing. Hence, he adds that since WhatsApp is a software, they are still considering the feedbacks from the users and they will evaluate it continuously.
WhatsApp live location sharing is already available for both Android and iOS users and will be available worldwide in the coming days. If you used the WhatsApp Web and another user shared a live location with you, you will see a placeholder, indicating that the live location is available on the phone.