When something goes wrong, one of the first things you think about is getting in touch with the people you care about. But if there’s been a natural disaster, an accident or some other emergency, that may be a lot easier said than done.
Google’s latest app, called Trusted Contacts, aims to fix that. The app allows friends and family members to remotely share their location with just one touch.
When you sign up for the app, you designate specific people in your address book as “trusted contacts.” This allows you to share your location at any given time and allows them to request your location.
Unlike Apple’s Find My Friends and some related apps, Trusted Contacts doesn’t share your location by default. Instead, your trusted contacts can see general information about your whereabouts, like whether you’re currently online and if you’ve been moving around.
You can, however, broadcast your location at any given moment to one or all of your trusted contacts, who will be able to see your real-time location until you end the location sharing. The thinking, says product manager David Tattersall, is that users will be able to share their location with loved ones for brief periods of time, like while walking home or out on a hike.
The app also works offline, so if your battery dies or you lose service, the app will still be able to point contacts to wherever your last known location was.
Likewise, if a trusted contact wants to check on you, they can ask for your location within the app. When a contact requests your location, the app will notify you and you can opt to share your location or decline the request. If you don’t respond to the request, the app will automatically share your most recent location with the contact who requested.
That last part may be troubling to the more privacy conscious, but Google says it’s necessary as people are not always able to use their phone during serious emergencies, like natural disasters or car accidents.
“It basically means then that as long as you’ve got your phone in your pocket, someone can always find you in case of an emergency. You’re always findable,” Tattersall tells Mashable.
Trusted Contacts is currently only available on Android, but there is a web interface that allows you to designate iPhone users and others who don’t have the app as trusted contacts and Google says an iPhone version is in the works.
Though the app is relatively simple for now, Tattersall notes that the app complements some of Google’s other crisis response services and says that, in the future, Google may choose to integrate it with Android’s built-in emergency calling features.
“We have a really robust crisis response offering for times of earthquakes and natural disasters… you can see there’s a natural evolution here where these two products could work together if we want.”