Google Maps, Find My Friends and Life360: Which Tracking App Works Best? | WSJ

By | February 20, 2020

(energetic percussion music) – According to this, he
should be right here. – [Joanna] So what’s happening here? Well, that’s me. And that’s my friend Aldo. No, really, his real name is Aldo. I checked his Costco card and everything. I don’t know who you’re thinking of but this Aldo is an
actor who sometimes likes to hide around town and help
me test location sharing apps. – Yeah, it’s great. My whole life people have
been adding a W to my name. Like it’s so funny. – [Joanna] Anyway, Apple’s Find My Friends location sharing and Google
Maps and an app called, Life360, have become very popular amongst groups of friends and families. They all work similarly. You share your real time
location with a person and maybe they share it
with you and then you can see each other on a map, right down to the specific address. Yes, it can be very, very precise. Creepy? Absolutely. But there are some good
reasons to use these. And if you’re convinced, which ones best? That’s why Aldo’s here. Wait, where’s Aldo? (classical music) Aldo, has an iPhone on him with those three location sharing apps. I requested his location
through each of the apps and he accepted. He also has the ability
to turn location sharing with me at any time. But before we get into
which one works best let’s consider why you
may want to track someone like Aldo or why you may
consider someone tracking you. I have two reasons. Number one, meeting up. Whether you’re meeting a friend in a park or at a restaurant, you
can see your whereabouts instead of texting back and forth. Google and Apple let you limit
the sharing of your location to different periods of
time, say an hour or two. Or you can choose to share indefinitely. Number two, safety. People use these services
to make sure friends have gotten home okay in a cab or Uber. Parents use this with kids of all ages. Focused on families, the Life360 app has features for tracking new drivers. Of course, there are plenty
of reasons not to track. Notably, you give up your own privacy. And also, you can get
anxious when the tech doesn’t work right. Also, stalking, yes, the list goes on. If you decide to share your location, make sure it’s with
someone you know and trust. Okay, so which one is the best? Test one, standing still outside. Let’s see which of
these let’s me find Aldo outside the easiest. So all three of them seem to
have him in the same place. Guess, if I bear to the left
here sort of by the water. Winner of test one, Found you. – Never. – Apple and Life360. They plotted him faster
and more precisely. Test two, on the go. But what happens when Aldo
is in a car or a horse. Each of the apps update
location at different intervals. If you have Apple’s app open
it will refresh every minute. When Life360 is open, it
refreshes every three seconds. Making it way easier to keep tabs on a moving vehicle or animal. Yep, he’s coming in across
Central Park south right now. Winner of this round, Found ya. Life360. Life360 and Google also
show you the remaining battery percentage of the
person you’re tracking. Sadly, Apple doesn’t. Test three, inside a building. Yep, Aldo decided to go to work today. The GPS can get close and give you an idea of what indoor location someone is in. But often it puts them
right outside it on a map. According to all three
apps, he should be standing right here in the middle of 47th Street. Winner, none of them. They all plotted Aldo in
the middle of the street. Your decision should really
come down to privacy policies and what phone you have. Apple’s policies are the best. It retains your location
data for just two hours. Google, not so much. It requires that you enable
a setting that let’s Google keep a record of every place you’ve been. It can use this data to
show you more targeted ads. Google does offer a tool
to auto delete this data. Life360’s policy says your data could be used for advertising and there’s no way to
currently delete your location data from it’s servers. If you’ve got friends and
family with iPhones and Android phones go with Life360. I found it to be better and
faster than Google Maps. If you’ve got an iPhone and
friends and family with iPhones, go with Apple’s Find My Friends. Or what’s going to be
called, Find My in IOS 13. I’ve decided to use Find
My Friends with some of the closest people in my life. Which basically now makes me Aldo. (classical music)

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