Now that I’ve been using iOS family sharing features for a few months, I’m finding it isn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. I wrote earlier this year about the “Pros and Cons” of iOS Family Sharing. This post builds upon that one, but focuses on one feature in particular that I’ve found useful: location sharing. With location sharing, you can check in on the location of family members, without the need for an extra app on your device or theirs.
First, a quick review. Family Sharing was introduced with iOS 8. With family sharing, family members with different Apple ID’s can group their accounts together and share music, books, photos, calendars, and their locations. Most of this works well, and there are only a few things that I think could work better, all of which is outlined in my earlier article (be sure to read the comments, too!)
But now on to Family Location sharing. I know I know, based on comments I receive daily on other articles, some people are going to say, “That’s spying! Don’t stalk your kids’ every move!” And some might say “gee, now my spouse can track my whereabouts, I don’t think I like that very much”. Right off I’ll say these are valid points and certainly something to think about before using this feature. Whether you want to use it will certainly be based on your parenting style, how old your children are, whether they are out of the home without you for long periods of time, whether they are driving….
As mentioned in a comment left on another post recently, “Trust is earned…but verified.” (Thanks Bonus Dad). Using family sharing and location sharing doesn’t mean I don’t trust my daughter; it’s just convenient to know I can verify her whereabouts if need be.
How to use Location Sharing as part of iOS Family Sharing
1. First, set up family sharing (Settings > iCloud). Invite your family members.
2. Enable “Share your Location” (Settings > iCloud > scroll down to “Share My Location” under Advanced). If you have more than one device that uses your Apple ID, you can choose which device (for example, iPhone or iPad).
Now that you’ve enabled location sharing, family members (those you’ve added in step 1) can view your location from an iMessage or from the “Find My Friends” app. Make sure all family members have accepted your invitation and have turned on their location sharing as well.
Share and View Locations in Messages
You can now use iMessage to view a family member’s location. Select a recent iMessage from a family member and click the “Details” link in the upper right. If this person has turned on their location sharing, you’ll see their location on a map.
Tip: you can also share your location with someone who is NOT in your family, just by clicking Send My Location, or Share My Location. You can choose how long they can view your location…use this one judiciously if not a close friend! This feature is available when your friend also has an Apple device, i.e. it won’t work with a friend using an Android device.
Share and View Locations in “Find My Friends”.
First, download the “Find My Friends” app from the app store (free). Note: this is not the same as “Find My iPhone”.
Now you can use Find My Friends to view all family members’ locations on a map.
As seen above, In the Find My Friends app, you’ll see each family member’s location on a map as long as their device is turned on and connected to WiFi or 3G/4G.
Receive a notification when a family member leaves or arrives at a location
Once you see your family member on a map, you can click their name and you’ll have several options by clicking “Notify Me” or “More“.
I find “Notify Me” a useful feature. You can set up a notification when someone leaves their current location, or arrives at another location. Just click “Notify Me” and set up the notification:
Now I’ll know when this teenager leaves the park with her friends, so I’ll know to expect her home shortly.
You can also click “More” to see a few more options:
- Choose a label for a given location, such as “Home” or “School”. This makes it easier to quickly set up notifications in the future, such as “Notify me when Chippy arrives at School”.
- Open up the location in Maps – useful it you need to get driving directions.
- Set up a “reverse” notification of sorts by clicking “Notify (family member’s name) and then your family member will receive a notification when YOU leave a particular location. You can even set this up to Repeat each time you arrive at a certain location
How to Stop Sharing Your Location
“This is all great, but I’m on a secret mission and don’t want anyone to find me! Can I turn off Location Sharing? “
Sure! If you want to disable Location Sharing, just go back to Settings > iCloud > Share My Location, and turn the feature off.
So what do you think? Have you used Location sharing with your family in iOS? If not, do you think it might be useful? Or do you think it is too invasive? Leave a comment and let me know!