Apple includes several native iOS apps on its devices, which users don’t really have a choice but to have on their phones. For better or worse, apps like “Compass”, “Game Center”, “Voice Memos”, “Podcasts”, and the Apple Watch app are installed on every updated iOS device and cannot be uninstalled. Apple also has several apps on the App Store that do not come preinstalled, such as “Find my iPhone”. One of these apps was “Find my Friends.” This is an application where users can choose to share their exact location with other friends either indefinitely or for specific periods of time.
Originally released in 2011, it has for the most part been extremely underwhelming. Apple has rarely discussed the application nor marketed it, and its usage rates have been extremely low thus far. What’s worse for the application is that it relies heavily on network effects; groups of people must all be registered with the application (and in some cases approve one another) before they can start using it to find each other.
BUT THIS IS A VERY POWERFUL AND USEFUL APPLICATION. Look past the potential for it to be an invasive tracking mechanism, and you’ll find a whole suite of features that make it extremely useful.
Heres the top uses for students at Boston College:
Be Able To Locate Friends in Crowded Areas
You’re in O’Neil library, and can’t find the specific classroom that your friend is studying in. Or at Lower Dining Hall during Late Night on Friday, and can’t find the table they are sitting at. Maybe they’re texting you they’re at Mod 21A, which isn’t very helpful considering how the mods are numbered almost at random. In comes Find My Friends! You can let a specific friend (or group of friends) know your location for a specific period of time, such as half an hour, and an extremely accurate location of the device you are using will show up on your friends’ phones with details as to how far you are and how long it might take to get to your friends. Dropping a pin on Google Maps is not nearly as dynamic, multi-faceted, or useful as Find My Friends.
Alerts When Friends Are Somewhere
Let’s say you’re at the Prudential Center, or watching a movie in Coolidge Corner. Turns out several of your friends were there at the same exact time- and none of you knew the other was there! Enter Find My Friends. If the setting is turned on for a location, it will alert the friends you have approved that you are in that location as soon as you enter that location’s predefined geofence. You can set this for your dorm room to know who visited while you were gone, or even a specific party to let your friends know that you’ve arrived. So next time you want to let your best friends know when you’re at the Plex so they can come play pickup basketball with you, skip texting them, and just create the setting on the app to let them know every time (or until you wish). You can also set proximity settings with certain people, such as being alerted when your roommate is 1 mile away!
Tracking Down Friends for Group Events
Scavenger hunt. Splitting up in a grocery store to get different groceries. Visiting a new city together and splitting up groups of friends. Whatever the event or activity may be, there is no better app than Find My Friends to make sure you know exactly where everyone is! If you’re spending a weekend in Toronto for your bachelor party, you can have all your friends enroll to the “Bachelor Party” event on Find My Friends, and everyone will be able to keep track of where everybody is. Set the duration of the event of activity, and the tracking ends once the event ends. There is no easier way of keeping track of a group of people for a specific period of time, complete with distance monitoring and constant location pinging. Studying abroad and want to make sure your group of friends knows where everyone is? Now it couldn’t be easier!
Making Sure Friends are Safe
No one would voluntarily allow someone to track them without their knowing, right? Well, specific settings allow you to let your
friends make sure exactly where you are during specific times. For example, every Friday night between 11pm and 2am, you can have your location pinged to your roommates on Find My Friends, and vice versa. It helps let everyone know where everyone is and find each other much more easily, especially during times when we aren’t necessarily looking at our texts. or actively aware that our friends are worried about where we are!
There’s tons of uses for the Find My Friends app. I believe it will be used much more now that it is native to iOS9, and rightfully so! Let’s not leave running into one-another on chance anymore. Or deal with various difficulties when we’re looking for each other. Find My Friends can completely change the way we locate friends moving forward- and its capacity to become an advanced social platform in its own right is fascinating.