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Do you updated your WhatsApp whenever new updates are available? If not then do it as soon as they give you a new update right away, because this time the Facebook-owned messaging service is giving its over 1 billion users interesting new feature- “live location sharing.” Now you have new reason to keep coming back to the app multiple times a day. Of course, it already gives you the option to share your current location with other users, but that’s a static, one-time share. They key difference with live location sharing is that it is dynamic and updates your location in real time, even when WhatsApp is running in the background.
Zafir Khan, Product Manager at WhatsApp told Gadgets 360 while giving a demo of the feature earlier this week that the Live location is a way to share your location in a chat and the participants in that chat will then be able to see your real-time location as it updates on a map and said that it is limited in duration.
He added that location is shared at the chat level, which means you can share your live location in a one-on-one WhatsApp conversation or a group chat.
How does live location sharing work?
When you try to share your live location in a WhatsApp chat – by tapping the Attach icon on Android, or the Plus icon on the iPhone – you will be prompted to select the duration of time for which the share will be active. You can only choose from one of the preset options – 15 minutes, 1 hour (default), and 8 hours – and, optionally, add a comment. Khan said that these durations had been picked based on the common scenarios in which people are most likely to use WhatsApp live location sharing. Users can still choose to share a one-time, static location if they prefer.
You can manually stop sharing live location data within a chat at any given time. A new option in your Account Privacy settings will give you an overview of all WhatsApp chats you are sharing your live location in at the time.
Tapping ‘View live location’ will take you to a map view where you can see the current location of all the users who are presently sharing their location in that chat. Live location shares will show up in WhatsApp chats as thumbnails that show the initial location of the user and a ‘Live until’ time. You can switch to a Satellite/ Terrain view of the map if you desire, and even see live traffic data as an overlay, which sounds pretty convenient if you are waiting for someone.
Below the map you will see the names of the same users in a list view, with a timestamp that indicates real time location information of a particular user. In-spite of a marginal error (for example “Accurate to 50 metres”) for their location this new feature will only add up to the famous application. You can tap the little (i) button next to the user to bring a pop-up that lets you communicate with them using WhatsApp in different ways.
In a WhatsApp group, you can bring up the group info and see all users that are sharing their location with the group at that point in time. This will be particularly useful in busier groups, as you won’t need to scroll up and try to find the message where the user originally shared their location.
Khan was happy to announce that it provides utility in those scenarios where people are coordinating and meeting up in the real world. Whatapp give users control so they can stop sharing at any time and sharing a live location is just as secure as sending any other communications over WhatsApp in that it is end-to-end encrypted.
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WhatsApp’s live location sharing implementation is pretty similar to Telegram’s.
Apple’s iMessage lets you share your location with users for an hour, until the end of the day, or indefinitely, which is great for sharing your location at any give time with family and/ or close friends.
What is the Impact on battery life
We asked Khan if WhatsApp users who actively use the new feature can expect an adverse impact on their phone’s battery life. He moved to allay such fears.
“Our engineering team spent a significant amount of time optimizingbattery and performance for this feature,” he explained. “We have special techniques to help conserve your battery when sharing live location. So it takes into account a number of different factors, such as how long you’ve been sharing your live location, whether someone on the other end who you are sharing with is actually looking at the map, your current battery level.”
“We take into account these factors and several others to determine how often to get a location update from your phone because by being intelligent about that we can help conserver some battery,” he added. “We are just launching this feature so this will be something that we also continuously optimise over time as we get more usage of the feature.”
When can you get WhatsApp live location sharing?
Live location sharing is now rolling out to Android and iOS users and it will be “globally available within the coming days”. If you are using WhatsApp Web and someone shares a live location with you, you will be shown a placeholder that will indicate that the live location can be seen on the phone.
Khan believes the feature will find wide traction among WhatsApp’s large user base. WhatsApp has over 1 billion daily active users, and over 1.3 billion monthly active users.