How to Track Friends with your iPhone

How to Track Friends with your iPhone
Mac Tip #519, 18 January 2012

Sometimes my partner walks part of the way home from work, for the exercise. Meanwhile I may drive down the hill with the dogs and start walking towards her, so the dogs get their walk too. iPhone’s Find Friends app makes it easy to see when and where we’ll meet up. Here’s how it works.

Quick Start

  1. Request permission to follow someone.
  2. Once they’ve accepted, open the Find Friends app and select their name.
  3. Tap the address of their current location to see a map.
  4. Look for the pink pin.
  5. Choose Hide from Followers or Remove from Followers for added privacy.

Want more detail? Read the full Tip below.

Request permission to follow someone

If your iPhone or iPad has iOS 5 you should have the Find Friends app. To use the app you will probably have to enter the password associated with your Apple ID or iCloud account.

Open the app and tap the + symbol at top right of the screen. A message window opens.

Enter the email address of someone with a suitable device, and add an optional message, then send. The app sends an email to the address you entered.

Your friend accepts your request

Find friends request.

Find friends request from Miraz Jordan.

Your friend receives an email with instructions. If they’re willing to allow you to ‘find’ them they must open the email on a device using iOS 5 and click the View Request link. To accept your request they follow the instructions on screen.

Open the Find Friends app and select a friend

The All screen on the Find Friends app shows a list of all friends who’ve accepted your request. A green badge by their name shows approximately how far away they are.

I have one friend in Canada and another in Arizona who accepted my request. The badge simply shows them as being 99+ Km away from me in New Zealand.

To ‘find’ a friend click on their name in the list. A new page appears showing contact details and the address where they are now.

Sometimes friends may not be able to be found — there’s an easy button that allows for privacy.

Tap the address to see a map

Here’s where the real fun starts. Tap the address for where your friend is currently located to call up a map.

Tap the ‘page curl’ icon at bottom right of the screen to reveal options for the type of map to display:

  • Standard: a street map
  • Satellite: a satellite view from above (as in my screenshots)
  • Hybrid: a combination of both Standard and Satellite.

Use the pinch and spread gestures on your phone to zoom in and out of the map.

My partner and I are at opposite ends of the Wellington waterfront.

My partner and I are at opposite ends of the Wellington waterfront.

Look around the map to see a blue pin inside a blue circle. That shows where you are. A pink pin and pink circle show where your friend is.

The wider the circle, the less accurate the reading.

The pins move

I had to tap Refresh to update the display.

I had to tap Refresh to update the display. My partner and I should meet up in a few minutes.

As you and your friend move, so do the pins on the map — in theory at least.

If a person gets ‘stuck’ in one place, and you expect them to be moving, tap the Refresh button at top right of the screen to force an update.

Go private

I find this app extremely useful, at least as far as my partner’s concerned. We can each keep track of where the other person is without having to send texts or make calls. It’s particularly useful when it comes to collecting my partner from the airport or other locations.

But there may be times when you want a bit of privacy. In that case, tap the Me button at the bottom of the Find Friends main page. Your own Profile is displayed.

Look for the section Hide from Followers and tap the Off button so the word On is displayed. Now your friends will not be able to see where you are. Remember to turn it on again later to allow others to see your location.

Remove a follower

If you change your mind about a particular person you had previously allowed to follow you or had followed yourself, you can remove them from the list.

Tap the Me button at the bottom of the Find Friends main page. Your own Profile is displayed.

Scroll down and tap on the name of the follower you wish to remove. A page appears with information about that person.

Scroll down to the end to see two buttons: Remove from Followers and Stop Following. Tap the button that reflects your wishes.

One wish

The app is lacking something — internal messaging.

As my partner and I walk towards each other I’d like to be able to tap her name and type out a quick message. Instead I have to leave the app and switch to messaging. Maybe in iOS 6…

What do you think? Did you try this Tip out? Tell us in the Comments online how this Tip helped you.

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