WhatsApp will start rolling out the option to share “live location,” from Wednesday. With this, a user can choose to let a contact or a group trace their location or movement on a map in real time for a defined window of time.
This is different from the current “share location” feature which shares a static location. However, like the static location, live location too will only be visible to the contacts or groups one chooses to share it with.
As of February 2017, WhatsApp had 200 million monthly active users in India, making the country its largest market.
“We were trying to solve the rendezvous problem: when you are meeting up with a group, when you want to share where you are when you are commuting, or when you want to let your loved ones know that you are safe. These are the scenarios where live location is useful,” WhatsApp product manager Zafir Khan told TOI over phone on Tuesday.
Earlier too, apps and internet companies have incorporated social location-sharing as a feature. On Uber, one can share trip status with a contact, which lets them track the cab’s movement in real time. This June, Snapchat launched a location-sharing feature called Snap Map.
Google launched Google Latitude in 2009 – a product the internet giant “retired” four years later.
WhatsApp’s live location feature had been under development for the last few months and Khan says it will be end-to-end encrypted like the messages, pictures and videos shared on the app. “We understand that location is an intimate piece of information, so the option to ‘stop sharing’ is prominently displayed,” says Khan.