- Facebook Messenger has introduced a Live Location feature available globally on iOS and Android devices for users to let their friends know where they are and when they might show up, according to an announcement from Facebook. Facebook informed TechCrunch that Live Location requires a standard amount of battery power to run.
- Live Location facilitates sharing of a static point on a map such as a coffee shop where friends might be gathering or relaying movement toward that coffee shop or any other destination to allow friends to track users’ progress getting there. Users can be tracked on a map for an hour, and a small clock in the right-hand corner of the map ticks down the remaining time their movement will be shared.
- Facebook emphasized broadcasting locations to friends through Facebook Messenger is completely optional. Users can decide to stop sharing their locations whenever they want, even before an hour passes.
Messaging platforms are much more than just platforms for messages, as is evidenced by Facebook Messenger’s leap into real-time location sharing. With Live Location, the messaging powerhouse is pushing into Google’s mapping turf. In fact, Facebook Messenger has beat Google to the punch in live location transmission. Google has teased an update that includes the ability to share locations with contacts in real time, but has yet to release that update. When the update is available, Google will put its own spin on location sharing with driving routes part of its differentiated tool.
For marketers, the potential of Live Location and tools like it isn’t hard to see. Facebook Messenger could take a cue from apps such as Foursquare, and permit restaurants, hotels, retailers and more to dole out promotions to people strolling by their businesses. It also isn’t hard to imagine a ton of relevant location information coming from these tools such as the neighborhoods where consumers mostly dwell or, for advertising placement purposes, what paths they are taking to get to their destinations. Location-driven marketing services could arise to help turn this stream of information into action. If those services could give people decent excuses for being late now that their friends can know exactly where there are, that would be pretty helpful, too.
Location sharing is a cool and handy concept — and Messenger head of product Stan Chudnovsky told Reuters users are highly interested in it — but it sparks questions around privacy. TechCrunch explored a previous attempt at maps that got Facebook into a sticky privacy (or lack thereof) situation when Harvard University student Aran Khanna cobbled together locations attached to Messenger chats using a Chrome extension. Heading off possible privacy concerns with Live Location, Messenger product manager Selena Wang stressed, “You are always in control.” The messaging platform has promoted the feature as enhancing rather than imperiling safety.