WhatsApp has announced that you will now be able to share your live location, updated in real time, with friends and family in your contacts list. The feature is now rolling out for Android phones as well as the Apple iPhone, and in case you don’t see it already, you should get the update soon.
This new feature is not to be confused with the location sharing feature which already existed in WhatsApp, where you could simply drop a pin on the map and share that exact point of location with contacts. Now, with the option of Live Location sharing, you will not need to keep re-sharing the location again and again—simply let WhatsApp share your location on a map that is updating real time, till you decide to stop it or set an automatic time limit.
For this, you need to go to contacts, select the location option, and select “Share Live Location”. You can, if you wish to, still share location as earlier, which would remain a one-time share. This feature will use the phone’s GPS feature to detect and send location updates—what sort of an impact this will have on the device’s battery life remains to be seen, and will vary across phones.
As it turns out, WhatsApp isn’t the first app to introduce this feature. In fact, its sister app, Facebook Messenger, had rolled out the temporary location sharing feature earlier this year. Perhaps it was only logical that Facebook added this specific capability to WhatsApp as well. According to research firm Statista, WhatsApp had already clocked 1.3 billion active users globally, as of July 2017, making this the most popular instant messenger app globally. Facebook Messenger is a close second, with 1.2 billion active users globally, as per Facebook’s numbers in July.
The addition of the Live Location sharing feature also brings WhatsApp at par with another instant messaging rival Telegram. A similar feature was added to Telegram as well, a few weeks ago.
WhatsApp will roll out this feature via an automatic push from their servers to your device, and would not necessarily require a manual update of the app installed on your phone. In case you don’t see this feature already, remember that this is being rolled out in batches and should be available to you soon.