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Twist for iPhone is an interesting 'twist' on location sharing

Mel Martin

I've been a big fan of Glympse as a way to share my location with friends, so they know where I am and when I might arrive. In fact, it's a favorite app of mine. So I was interested to try Twist, an iOS app that has similar features but accomplishes things quite differently, and in many ways does it smarter and better. A new version of the app was released today.

Twist is free, as is Glympse (also both Google's Latitude and Apple's Find my Friends). Twist will ask for access to your address book both for your home address and any favorite locations you want to set up as defaults. When you are ready to go, get a destination from your address book, search using keywords, or drop a pin on a map. Then select the recipients of your location updates; you can notify them via text or email.

In a nice touch, Twist doesn't do anything till it senses (via GPS) that you have left your origin. It sends notes to the people you specify, and sends updates along the way with your ETA. Each text or email contains a link that will let people see your location on a map. If your friends have the Twist app, they can get the information there too.

There are some other cool features that Glympse doesn't have. When you select your destination you will get a weather forecast for that location, a street view from Google, and Yelp will provide reviews if the location is part of the Yelp data. You can also create a new destination from a calendar event. Twist will tell you it's time to leave to get to your destination on time.

In testing the app I especially liked the auto-start function. I can set up my trip in advance, and nothing happens until I leave. I appreciate that my route can be via car, public transportation, or walking. The estimates of arrival time were very good.

There are also some things I didn't like. The app asked me to register for some additional services. I think I did, but got no response to my request. Curious. When someone is following me to see where I am, my location on their device (computer or smartphone) seems to lurch around and jump, rather than be a smooth moving position. Glympse does this much better. I also don't think it's always easy to figure out how to set up the your messages to people. While by no means difficult, it could still be more intuitive.

These kinds of issues can be cleaned up, but I still think Twist is a giant leap forward in location sharing. I urge you to give it a try if it has capabilities you need. Twist is more about the when while Glympse is oriented toward the where. Both are valid, interesting and useful apps.

Gallery: Twist for iPhone | 5 Photos

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