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Pardon my ignorance as I have never used a smart phone ... you are saying Bob publishes his location to you, and you can check it at any time? I must be getting old because that sounds terrible.

There's an optional Find My Friends app which lets you check peoples' location at any time. You have to explicitly request it and they have to explicitly authorize it. You can also set up temporary events for e.g. visits to family so that you can keep track of each other temporarily but then have it expire.

I personally find it to be incredibly useful for meeting friends and such. Of course, if you don't like it, you don't have to use it.

Terrible for whom? Recalling of course that both parties consented to the idea.

I find it (or rather, Google Latitude) AWESOME. One, it's awesome for rendezvouses. Both the planned kind (I arrive first, she's not here yet, where is she, maybe I could walk a block and meet her first) and the unplanned kind (sometimes I find out my wife is downtown when I didn't expect her to be... hi honey!).

Two, I'm still tracking friends back home even though I don't live near them any more. It emphasizes the community in the world. It'd be better if more people used Latitude, though.

"sometimes I find out my wife is downtown when I didn't expect her to be... hi honey!"

Some people will find that terrible in itself, but even if you don't, there are unintended consequences. Suppose she is out there buying you a surprise present. You catch here with the present in hand; she is disappointed that you found out about it. So, next time, she switches off the 'find me' feature. You see she switched it off, and either think 'she is trying to surprise me', in which case half the surprise is gone, or worse, 'what is she hiding?'.

> "Some people will find that terrible in itself"

Right, and if they do find it terrible, they don't use the software. It's not rocket surgery.

> "What is she hiding"?

Please, I'm not a sitcom character.

To attempt to address the apparently spirit of your concern, of course there are unintended consequences (to anything). The important question is whether the net effect is "terrible" (GP's impression), "awesome" (my experience), or somewhere in between. It seems to me that the main differentiator is what relative value you (and the close friends who would be candidates for sharing location data) put on secrecy (among those close friends) vs information (about those close friends). And I am reporting that in my life, I have yet to experience any downside, I've experienced plenty of upside, and some of the upsides have been awesome.

I would certainly be horrified and angry if Google turned this feature on by default, or if user locations were published to people they hadn't consented to, or something like that.

> what relative value you ... put on secrecy ... vs information

For the last time, privacy is not about secrecy, and it is not a battle against information. It's about dignity. It's great people get value out of these features, but do understand that to those who have not assimilated into this new culture, the idea that having to dawdle in uncertainty for 10-15 minutes while you wait for your wife to meet you downtown is some burden is ... crazy!

I thought mobile phones were supposed to solve that problem anyway. It seems nobody's content enough to agree on a meeting and patiently wait for their company anymore. Either that or they are worry-warts, or just plain distrusting. I find these new values very difficult to relate to, as I cannot imagine another reason for tracking your companion like they're a specimen of some endangered species.

I'm not sure what to say to this besides, I don't know, try harder to understand other people's points of view, if you want to. Or don't, it doesn't much matter to me, although I don't see the point of popping up in these discussions otherwise.

The app "Find my Friends" allows users to accept requests to be added to someone's FMF contact list, which allows the person who added them to ping their phone at any time to find their location. It's pretty privacy breaching, but I only have 3 people added who I trust very much, and to whom it is useful.

I use Google Latitude to share my location with my girlfriend. As another poster points out, it's really handy when we're meeting somewhere and trying to figure out how long until the other arrives.

Practically it means the only people I could ever use this with would be my close family, and even then it's creepy.

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