WhatsApp recently learned some new tricks and the messaging app is now able to share your location so other people so they can see where you are. An invasion of privacy or useful feature? Here’s how it works.
Enable location tracking
At first sight it might seem like a bad idea to share your location with everyone, but the sharing is actually very limited. In fact, you can share your location with just one person, such as your partner. A youngster could share their location with parents if they chose to.
Your location is not made public and only the people you choose can see it.
First, turn on location services on your phone. On an Android phone, go to Settings > Connections (different phones may have slightly different menus). Location has a switch, but press the word ‘Location’ to open the settings.
Turn on Location and press Locating Method. High accuracy is best, but uses the most battery, but Battery saving and Device only are less precise, but more power efficient methods of tracking your location.
Share your location in WhatsApp
Now that location services are on, you can share your location with someone. Open a conversation with a person in WhatsApp and press the paperclip icon in the message box. It is not an obvious place to look for location services. The idea is that you attach your location to a message and so it appears among the attach options (paperclip icon).
Tapping it opens a panel and pressing Location (after several permission screens) takes you to a new screen where a map is displayed with your location and there are several options below.
You can send your current location accurate to 4 meters or other nearby locations. At the top is Share live location. Press it.
After another permissions message, you can choose the length of time your location is shared. If you are meeting someone can can’t find them, you could message them or call them and ask them where they are, but alternatively you could share your location for 5 minutes or an hour.
Short location sharing time periods are great for finding people, but if you want to know where your teenage kids are, for example, you could ask them to enable it for 8 hours. I’m sure parents would want to be able to remotely activate this, but it is not possible.
Add a comment and press Send to send your location.
See and stop location sharing
When you are sharing your location, you can see it in the message conversation as a map. Below it says the time it will automatically stop being shared and there is a link to stop sharing right now.
Go to the WhatsApp home screen and press the menu button > Settings > Account > Privacy > Live location and each of the people you are sharing your location with is listed. It tells you how many hours or minutes are left and there is a button to stop sharing right now.
If you return to the conversation, the map that was previously live is now gray and it says Live location ended.
Sharing your location is not as scary as you might imagine and you can control who can see it and for how long. It is actually a very useful feature on occasions, for example, when out shopping and meeting friends, tracking your older phone-carrying kids when visiting a large theme park, and so on.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 29 October 2017