Google's Trusted Contacts App is the new version of its Google Latitude program, which was discontinued in 2013 to make way for Google Plus. Latitude allowed mobile device users to pick certain people they wished to share their location data with via their Google account. Trusted Contacts though is specifically designed around a user’s safety in the event of an emergency.
The way Trusted Contacts works is clever and simple, it allows you to add people you trust to the app (you can list up to six) Once you have added your trusted crew, squad or family, you can share your exact whereabouts with them, in real time, individually or as a group. This is particularly useful in the case of an emergency or a natural disaster for example. During an emergency of any nature, family and friends that you have saved to your list can request your status to see if you are ok and not injured. Alternatively, you can broadcast your location with a message to say everything is ok.
If you do not respond to the prompt within 5 minutes, with either a confirmation to share or a denial, your location will automatically be shared. This will work even if your phone has been destroyed or the battery has gone flat, your contacts will also be shown the last know place it was active from. If needed, the authorities can then be notified something may be wrong. Below are some of the Pros and Cons of Google’s Trusted Contacts App, the possibilities for use are quite interesting.
- Verify that your child made it safely to school.
- Check whether a friend or partner arrived home safely after a night out.
- Tracking people who embark on hikes or outdoor activities.
- Tracking the elderly during travel.
- Jealous partners can request your location. (causing an argument if you either accept or deny)
- Abusive partners tracking your every move.
- And less important but notable, nosey contacts if you leave the app passively broadcasting in the background.
How to Setup Google Trusted Contacts.
Trusted Contacts is now available from the Google Play Store. Once you have the app downloaded, fire it up. The time you launch the app, you will be taken through a few screens explaining what the app does and how it works. After the 7 screens of information, you will be dropped into a menu where you can add your 6 trustees.
Strangely for whatever reason, the contacts must be added by their email account and trusted Contacts will generate a list of people and their email accounts from your phones contact list, however, if yours is anything like mine it will be quite lacking. Because of this, you are most likely going to have to add people manually.
Once you have added people, they will be notified via email and have the choice of accepting or turning down your offer. If they accept, they will be able to start requesting your location immediately, even if they don’t have the app installed on their device. Instead, they will be directed to Google Maps and prompted to download the app.
All your trusted contacts are displayed on the main screen of the application. To share your location, just tap the orange button in the upper right corner. Here you can choose whether you want to share your location with all contacts at once or just one person in particular. If you choose to share your location, a confirmation window will appear asking to share with Google maps, here you can also send a message and information that you either need help or that you are ok.
On the other hand, if you are requesting the location of a contact, you must select a friend on the main screen, then from the drop-down menu, select Request for Location. The person whose location you want to check will then receive a notification via email, a pop up on their phone and lots of vibrations, they can then choose to reject or accept. If in five minutes, no choice has been made, Google will send the location regardless.
Note: Once you start sharing your location with a trusted contact it will live stream your location for 24 hours or until you cancel the request. The app is also a big user of email so prepare for your email account to swell if you use this regularly.