WhatsApp helps billions of people make plans and meet up with friends — and not just through its messaging and calling features. The app also has a “share location” function that you might be familiar with, letting you send an estimation of your current location to a contact. Taking this concept a step further, WhatsApp has now announced that it will soon launch a real-time location sharing feature.
In a blog post published yesterday, WhatsApp announced Live Location Sharing, a “secure way to let people know where you are.” Like the previous location sharing feature, this is activated by tapping the attach (paperclip) button in a WhatsApp conversation and selecting “Location.” There, you will soon find the new live location sharing function, which will send the particular person or group a real-time view of your current location on a map.
The feature makes use of end-to-end encryption for security and you can stop sharing the location at any time (WhatsApp says it is also on a timer which will at some point expire, though it’s not yet clear how long this lasts). Of course, end-to-end encryption won’t help one bit if someone steals your pal’s phone and decides to track you, but that’s a risk you’ll have to take when starting the location sharing.
This is a new feature for WhatsApp, but it’s not something we haven’t seen before elsewhere. Google added real-time location sharing to its Maps app earlier this year (you can find it in the hamburger menu under “share your location”) and Snapchat recently did something similar; any Snapchat feature to come down the line you should probably just expect to see in WhatsApp a month or two later now.
WhatsApp says the new feature will hit Android and iOS in the coming weeks. Let us know what you think of WhatsApp’s latest moves in the comments.
Previous WhatsApp updates
WhatsApp update: Colorful status updates
August 22: You can now create and post WhatsApp status updates with the font and background color of your choice. As before, you can still control who can see your status updates by heading into the privacy settings, and you can also check out who viewed them with the help of the small eye icon.
WhatsApp update: Share any file type
July 13: WhatsApp now allows users to share any file type, which means you’re no longer limited to things like photos, videos, PDFs, and Word documents: as long as the file is under 100 MB in size, you can share anything.
WhatsApp update: Pinned chats feature
May 19: This feature allows you to pin up to three chats to the top of the conversation list. To do so, all you have to do is tap and hold on a chat, select the new pin icon that appears in the action bar, and you’re good to go. Once pinned, the chat will remain at the top at all times, so you won’t have any trouble finding it once you open the app. Of course, you can always unpin a chat whenever you want to and pin a different one.
WhatsApp update: Support for Google Gboard GIFs
March 17: This update added the option of sending GIFs with Google’s Gboard keyboard. Previously, GIFs were supported but only through WhatsApp’s own GIF interface. Gboard’s GIF panel was grayed out and, therefore, unusable within the app. This has now changed, which is great news for the millions of Gboard users around the world.
WhatsApp update: WhatsApp status updates
February 20: In a bid to further compete with Snapchat, WhatsApp has launched a new feature called Status. Like Snapchat Stories, the new status feature lets users share photos and videos with friends which will disappear after a short period of time. WhatsApp dropped its longstanding text-based status updates when it introduced the new format but, following user feedback, the company later reintroduced the static statuses too. Users can now use both features independently.