When Apple showed off the final version of iOS 5 and their new iPhone 4S they included a quick demonstration of a new app they’ve built to help iPhone users find their friends and family that are also iPhone owners.
The Find My Friends app by Apple allows you to do just what the name implies, find your friends and family. Utilizing your Apple ID, you can quickly send invitations and connect with other iPhone owners to share your location with each other.
The app allows you to select the friend or family member you’d like to track down and then view their location on a map. The app connects to iCloud which then tracks down the GPS location of the iPhone owner you’re trying to find. The location is then sent back to your device so you can see the exact or general location of where your friends are.
Find My Friends & Siri
With Siri and the Find My Friends app you can quickly find any of your contacts that have allowed you to view their location. Launch Siri, ask her to find your friend by name, and after a few seconds she’ll return with a map showing you their location.
For this to work continually however you’ll need to turn on a passcode for your access to your iPhone. This allows you to keep Find My Friends connected to iCloud without having to re-enter a password.
If you try and use Siri to connect without having recently entered your Apple ID password into the Find My Friends app, Siri will explain that you’ll need to enter your password for her to be able to track down your friends.
Testing in the Wild
My family recently went to Kings Dominion, a Cedar Fair amusement park, for their Halloween activities. My wife and I shared each others location through the Find My Friend app and were able to track each others location throughout the day.
Overall, the app worked great, but at times it struggled to pinpoint the exact location of my wife and instead gave me a 1 mile radius. This would often be ok if you’re just curious as to the general location of your friends but while at a theme park a 1 mile radius is a large area.
Track Your Children
The Find My Friends app may end up being used mostly by parents trying to keep track of their kids. I don’t expect teenagers to complain about this capability too much as it does require them to have an iPhone. I’m guessing teenagers would be ok with sharing their continual physical location with their parents in exchange for parents being able to confirm that their kids are where they said they’d be.
iOS 5 includes restriction features on the phone that allow you to lock down features of the Find My Friends app. This will keep kids from turning it off or sharing their location with people parents don’t know.
Overall, the Find My Friends App is a great feature and fun to use. People love it when I show off Siri by asking her to find my wife. While it’s not an application I’ll use every day (at least not until my children are older) it is something that is extremely useful and helps set iPhones apart.