I’ll try not to make a habit out of writing articles that come across like an advertisement for a specific product or service, but there’s one cross-platform service that I felt you really should know about. It’s called Glympse, and it gives you the ability to let selected people track your location in real-time for a limited period of time. At first glance this may seem like a blatant violation of your privacy, but you decided how long your locations is broadcast and to whom you give access to it.
The makers of Glympse provide the service absolutely free (and so I have no idea what their business model is) and they’ve made clients available across the board (for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry). The people you send your Glympses to don’t have to use a smartphone and can watch your progress with nothing more than a web browser, so you don’t have to wonder if the recipient has any special software at their end.
So when might you use such a service? For me the most common use is letting my wife know where I am when I’m out, especially when I go cycling. She can always see my location, updated frequently in real-time. However, for most people the obvious use is when you’ve arranged to meet with someone and you want them to keep abreast of your progress. If you’re picking them up for example, they don’t have to guess how much time they have until you arrive because they can see exactly where you are.
When you start a Glympse you specify how long it will run (though you are always free to extend its runtime or cancel...
it at anytime). You then use the app to send out invitations, either by text message or by email, to those you wish to see your progress. They each receive a customized web address to watch you by, and with that information Glympse can tell you which of your invitees are watching at any given moment.
This form of security isn’t iron-clad, because your friends could pass along the link to others, or even publish it on Twitter, but since the track is time-limited and the link will never work again for any of your future Glympses, there really isn’t too much to be concerned about. If you’re paranoid however, you will probably stay away from this service anyway.
Receivers of Glympse invitations can either watch your progress on a web browser, or through their smartphone Glympse apps. On phones they keep the screen updates to a minimum to conserve battery, but this behavior has recently extended to the desktop (for no apparent reason). You can simultaneously monitor the tracks of multiple people at the same time if you need to, so if lots of your friends send you Glympses on their way to meet you, you can monitor all of them.
The only downside to using this app is that it draws a fair bit of battery power, mostly because it must transmit your location quite frequently. Transmitting data is the one of the most power-hungry activities you can do with your phone. However, unless your Glympse will run for hours, a short one won’t leave your battery without power. Those driving in cars can of course connect their phones to a charger.
You can check out Glympse at their webpage: http://www.glympse.com