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Find My Friends: Fun, useful and secure

Steve Sande, @stevensande
October 12, 2011
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With the release of iOS 5 comes another fun and useful app: Find My Friends (free). The app allows you to share your location with friends, who can then use the app on their iOS devices to figure out exactly where you are.

While this may seem like a cyber-stalker's dream, you need to invite friends to share your position information and you can remove that right at any time. There are some very good uses for Find My Friends, like keeping track of a teenage child's location or finding directions to a friend's location at a coffee shop.

Find My Friends uses a leather-like skeumorphic design, creating a warm and friendly look. The interface is designed with four main screens: All, which shows all of your friends who are using the app and have given you permission to see their location; Temporary, used to invite friends to temporarily share their locations; Me, which lets you hide from followers and set labels for various locations; and Requests, an inbox for all incoming friend requests.

Once a friend has allowed you to find his or her location, their name appears on the All page along with a small green "mileage sign" that shows approximately how far away they are. A tap on their name brings up the Info page, showing their current location, their address, and other contact information. At the bottom of the page are buttons for sending an iMessage to your friend or getting directions to their location.

Gallery: Find My Friends | 13 Photos

Asking for directions launches the Maps app, which pre-fills the Start and End fields with the current locations of you and your friend. It then provides you with turn-by-turn directions to that person's location, which can be a lot of fun if they're out of state.

I'm personally excited about using this app with Siri. It will be nice to say "Where's Brett?" and have it tell me where my colleague currently is. If Siri can read the turn-by-turn directions to me, then I can take a navigation app or two off of my iPhone.

The app has a few flaws -- Erica Sadun was looking at the help pages, found at Me > Account > Find My Friends Help > Find > Find Friends, and noticed that some of the pages had placeholders instead of actual help. Ooops. It looks like the app was rushed to get out concurrent with the release of iOS 5 and iCloud. On the other hand, the app is so easy to use, you won't need to use the help pages.

Be sure to check out the gallery for screenshots of Find My Friends in action.

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