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WhatsApp Launched Its Live Location Feature: What You Need to Know

October 20, 2017, 6:27 PM UTC

This week, WhatsApp announced its new feature that allows the Facebook-owned messaging app’s users to share their location with family and friends in real-time.

WhatsApp users on Android and Apple iOS devices will soon have the option of temporarily sharing their location by selecting the new “Share Live Location” option in the app. The feature is encrypted end to end for privacy and security, allowing WhatsApp users to decide who they want to share their location with, and for how long. WhatsApp said this week that the feature will roll out over “the coming weeks.”

“Whether you’re meeting up with friends, letting loved ones know you’re safe, or sharing your commute, Live Location is a simple and secure way to let people know where you are,” the company said in the blog post announcing the new feature.

Facebook bought WhatsApp two years ago and the messaging app has continue to grow rapidly in the interim, boasting more than a billion daily users this summer.

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How does it work?

Anyone chatting with another person or group on WhatsApp will be able to find the new “Share Live Location” feature under “Location” after clicking the “Attach” button in the app. Users can decided how long they want their location to be shared, either for 15 minutes, 1 hour, or 8 hours, though you can also turn off sharing at any point. If multiple people in one group chat share their locations, then all of them will be visible on one map.

How does this compare to other apps, like Facebook and Snapchat?

WhatsApp started testing live location sharing earlier this year, and other social media apps have rolled out similar features in 2017. Facebook’s other messaging app, Messenger, introduced live location sharing in March, allowing users to share their location with friends or a group for an hour. Google Maps also has a similar feature in its mobile app that, like WhatsApp, allows users to choose from different time increments and allows them manually switch off the feature. And in June, Snapchat introduced its Snap Map, which creates “Actionmoji” avatars for users that identify their location on a digital map.