By Dan Moren
August 17, 2016 7:28 AM PT
Wishlist: Bring back Find My Friends’s Temporary Events
Note: This story has not been updated for several years.
I don’t often find myself too wistful about features that Apple has removed, but during my travels the other week, I ended up missing one particular piece of functionality that I hadn’t even realized had gone the way of the dodo: time-limited location sharing.
Okay, yes: the feature, which debuted as part of Find My Friends, is still sort of present in iOS 9. But it’s been whittled down to a pretty limited offering.
You can still temporarily share a location via either Find My Friends or via Messages (tap on the ‘i’ button in the top right of a Messages conversation). But in either case, you have only three options: Share for One Hour, Share Until End of Day, and Share Indefinitely.
Older versions of Find My Friends had a nifty feature called Temporary Events, which let you pick an arbitrary date and time when the sharing would end. This would have been a perfect solution for my travels, which included a five-day stint at Gen Con, a huge gaming convention in Indianapolis, at which it’s often handy to be able to find other people that you know.1
Ideally, I would have been able to create a temporary event that shared my location with the handful of friends and family who were also attending, and then have the event automatically end when the convention was over. No muss, no fuss.
Instead, I was left with two somewhat more annoying alternatives: either sharing until the end of the day and re-upping that share every single day of the con, or–what we ended up doing–sharing indefinitely and assuming that we’d all remember to turn it off at the end.
I’m sure Temporary Events add a degree of complexity, but they also definitely offer a middle ground that is otherwise more inconvenient. For multi-day trips where you’re traveling with a group of people, having the ability to create a multi-day span of location sharing would definitely make life a lot easier.
- Of course, most of Gen Con takes place inside a huge convention center and connected hotels, places where iOS’s location features often can’t get enough precision to actually be useful. Yes, I know my friends are inside the convention center–that doesn’t really help me know where on the enormous exhibition floor I can meet up with them. ↩
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @email@example.com or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]
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