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Appy Friday: Location-Sharing Apps for Keeping Track of Family and Friends

It's not as stalkerish as it sounds.


Welcome to the second installment of Appy Friday, a new series by the “Today” show and Re/code where we spotlight some of today’s best apps. Last week, we recommended some tools to help you keep track of your sleeping habits, and this week, we’re focusing on tracking services of another kind — the people-tracking kind.

Yes, that sounds very stalkerish, but these apps are meant to help family and friends better coordinate meet-ups or get updates on when your party might arrive at a certain destination. Rather than constantly texting or calling to say, “Where are you?” — which can be distracting if they’re driving (not to mention annoying) — you can simply check these apps to see their real-time location or get automatic notifications when they’re close to their destination. Some instances where these location-sharing services might come in handy are trying to meet up with a bunch of people for dinner or a movie, or picking up your spouse after work.

There are numerous apps that do this, but Glympse is a favorite of “Today’s” Matt Lauer. It’s available for a wide variety of smartphones, including the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices, and lets you share your location with others for a specified period of time.

Some other recommendations from the Re/code team include Twist, a free iPhone and Android app that lets users send their estimated arrival time to whomever they’re trying to meet up with. Before leaving a destination, a user inputs where he or she is going and whom they are meeting. Twist then sends text and push notifications with ETA updates and provides a live map for real-time tracking.

Another app called Life360 has more of a family focus, though you can use it with friends and colleagues, too. It allows you to create “circles” or groups of family and friends and share your location, check on their status and find out when someone has arrived at their destination. It even includes a panic feature that sends your GPS coordinates to everyone in your circle in case of emergencies.

The app is free for iOS and Android users, but the company also offers a premium upgrade for $5 per month or $50 per year that adds such services as emergency roadside assistance and a 24/7 emergency hotline.

Last but not least is Waze. Though it’s better known as a mapping and navigation app, there is a built-in feature that allows you to email or share a link that shows your drive path and ETA with other users. When connected with your Facebook account, you can also see other friends who are driving to your destination. Waze is free and available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

(NBCUniversal is an investor in Revere Digital, which owns this website.)

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