Overnight, WhatsApp has introduced a new feature that could be handy for a lot of people — live location sharing in chats. With this new feature that’s designed for short term use, you’ll be able to share your location with a group or in a private chat, letting people know where you are while you’re on the go.
The new WhatsApp feature is still rolling out to users, so you might not have it on your phone yet, but it’s coming soon, and here is everything that you need to know about it.
WhatsApp already allows you to share your location, but that’s only your present location, as a one-time share. That’s helpful for telling someone where to come, for example, but less useful if you want someone to be able to see how far away you’ve reached.
With live location sharing, the location is dynamic and updates in real time, even after you leave the WhatsApp app. You can share your location to another person, to let a family member know where you are on your commute home, or to a group chat, so your friends can see how far away you are from a party.
This feature is fully opt-in, and is temporary in nature, sharing location for between 15 minutes, 1 hour, and 8 hours, depending on what you select. At other times, WhatsApp does not share your location to others. You can also manually stop sharing location data within a chat at any time.
The feature has launched already, but it’s still in the process of rolling out to all users, on both Android and iOS. To check if you have this feature, open any chat — either a group chat or a private chat — and tap the attach button. There will be an option to select the duration when sharing your location. In case you don’t have this option, the feature isn’t available for you yet.
You can view the location of users sharing their live location with you in a map view, and you’ll see the names of the users along with a timestamp to show the freshness of that data.
In groups, you’ll be able to see all users sharing their location to the group in the group information view, which sounds very useful if you’re trying to coordinate a lot of people. And of course, any of those people can choose to stop sharing their location anytime.
Telegram has a very similar feature, while Facebook Messengerlets you share real-time location data for one-hour sessions. Other chat apps like iMessage also let you share location data.
Google Maps also recently launched a similar feature for real time location sharing. It has some interesting features such as letting you share a trip, so instead of sharing your location for a fixed amount of time, you can choose to only share a particular journey, though you also have the option of sharing your location for a fixed amount of time.
Live location sharing doesn’t affect your battery life much, WhatsApp says. There are different techniques used to converse battery life, including when you last shared your location, whether someone at the other side of the chat is actually looking at the map, and your current battery level.
The location is secured in the same way as other WhatsApp messages — it’s end to end encrypted, and the only persons able to see your location are the ones you have opted to share your live location with.