Use Google Trusted Con­tacts

Mar­tyn Casserly shows how to keep track of friends on­line

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Google has in­tro­duced a new app that al­lows you to give per­mis­sion for se­lect fam­ily mem­bers and friends to track your lo­ca­tion. The idea be­hind Trusted Con­tacts is that some­one knows where you are in case any­thing goes wrong, and it could be a very im­por­tant way to stay safe. The app is free, easy to set up, and we’ll show you how in this quick tu­to­rial.

What is Trusted Con­tacts?

Trusted Con­tacts is a way to share your lo­ca­tion and sta­tus with a few close friends so they can

make sure you’re safe. Once you grant them per­mis­sion they can see if you’ve re­cently used your phone, moved lo­ca­tion, as well as the gen­eral sta­tus of your smartphone bat­tery. The in­ten­tion isn’t to turn your friends into stalk­ers, but in­stead give the re­as­sur­ance that some­one is look­ing out for you.

It makes the most sense in the con­text of say a late night when you might be walk­ing home by your­self. If you wanted you could turn on the track­ing fea­ture and send friends a mes­sage so they can know where you are.

Trusted Con­tacts would also be very use­ful if you’ve gone some­where un­fa­mil­iar - per­haps a trek into the wilds - where there wouldn’t be peo­ple around to help if you got into dif­fi­cul­ties. The ad­van­tages of this style of app will also ap­peal to par­ents want­ing to keep an eye on their chil­dren as they ven­ture out into the world. The app is sim­i­lar to Find my Friends on iOS or An­droid De­vice Man­ager, but with a few ex­tra fea­tures.

Per­haps the most im­por­tant safety fea­ture is that if friends are con­cerned that you might be in any kind of trou­ble they can re­quest your lo­ca­tion. The app then gives you five min­utes to deny the re­quest, but if it doesn’t re­ceive a com­mand it will au­to­mat­i­cally pro­vides the de­tails.

Set­tings can be changed at any time, and the user al­ways re­tains con­trol over who can track them and who can’t.

Set­ting up Trusted Con­tacts

Down­load the app from the Google Play Store. Af­ter launch­ing it for the first time you’ll see a se­ries

of pretty an­i­mated screens that take you through the var­i­ous fea­ture of the app.

This is a track­ing app and will need your lo­ca­tion to be able to work prop­erly, so grant this per­mis­sion when prompted. Google states that the data is kept pri­vate in the app and shows your cur­rent lo­ca­tion along with a map of your re­cent ac­tiv­i­ties.

As the name sug­gests, you’ll need to se­lect which peo­ple you trust with your lo­ca­tion. To do this al­low the app ac­cess to your Con­tacts, then choose the ones you want by tap­ping on the Add but­ton on the right side of the screen. The peo­ple you choose don’t have to have Trusted Con­tacts in­stalled on their phones, or even a Google ac­count, al­though they will need one if they want to re­quest your lo­ca­tion.

With the con­tacts se­lected you’re good to go. Now your friends will re­ceive an email letting

them know that they are able to ac­cess your lo­ca­tion and sta­tus ei­ther through a browser in­ter­face or the free Trusted Con­tacts app.

Us­ing Trusted Con­tacts

Once you’ve got your list of trusted friends up and run­ning you can start us­ing the app. The Home page shows a list of the friends you have added, be­neath which will ei­ther be a sta­tus or a mes­sage letting you know that they haven’t added you back yet. If friends down­load the Trusted Con­tacts app and add you then they will see sev­eral pos­si­ble sta­tus up­dates, each with dif­fer­ent mean­ings.

Ac­tive re­cently: The phone has been used or moved within the last 30 min­utes Ac­tiv­ity in the last hour: As above but for an hour Low bat­tery, bat­tery dead or off­line: Again, pretty self-ex­plana­tory.

If you want to let peo­ple know where you are then just tap the or­ange cir­cle in the top right corner that has a lo­ca­tion icon inside. This opens up a new win­dow with two choices: share with se­lected con­tacts or Send alert. The first sim­ply lets peo­ple know where you are and al­lows them to see your lo­ca­tion his­tory for the next 24 hours, or un­til you turn off the Shar­ing op­tion.

Each trusted con­tact you se­lect re­ceives an email letting them know you’ve shared your lo­ca­tion, and they can ac­cess the in­for­ma­tion ei­ther by tap­ping the View Up­dates in the app, or by view­ing the same in­for­ma­tion via the browser link in­cluded in the email.

The sec­ond is an ur­gent mes­sage that tells peo­ple you need im­me­di­ate help. It doesn’t waste time ask­ing who to choose, in­stead it just sends the alert to all trusted con­tacts on your list. Those with the app in­stalled will hear their alarm

tone be­gin to play and see your lo­ca­tion. Friends choos­ing the browser op­tion will re­ceive an email telling them you need as­sis­tance and pro­vid­ing a link to your lo­ca­tion.

If you’re wor­ried about some­one and want to see where they are then go to the Home screen, tap on a con­tact, and se­lect the ‘Ask for XXX’s lo­ca­tion’.

The app will then ask the other per­son to con­firm they want to share it with you. If they don’t re­spond within five min­utes you’ll au­to­mat­i­cally re­ceive the map de­tails of their lo­ca­tion. You can do the same thing via the web if you open the orig­i­nal email you re­ceived from the per­son and press the Re­quest lo­ca­tion but­ton.

Trusted Con­tacts is a sim­ple app. It doesn’t come loaded with fea­tures or op­tions, but that’s one of the best things about it. You just find the in­for­ma­tion you want quickly so that you know when to stop wor­ry­ing or start help­ing. Down­load it to­day, and get your friends to do the same. You never know when some­thing like this could be just what you need.

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