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Share your location on iPhone or Android: It's smart, not creepy

Share your location from your iPhone or Android phone with a few, trusted friends to ensure someone can find you in case of an emergency.

find-my-tabs

Find someone you trust. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

From our personal information to our exact movements, it's scary how much our phones and online services know about us. But phone tracking isn't all bad -- with the right app and settings, knowing where you are could give a loved one peace of mind, or even help emergency personnel find you if you need help.

Let's say you get lost, fall unconscious or go missing. The ability for friends and family members to find you by themselves is vital. Your phone already has all of the necessary tools and functionality built in to make it possible for your most trustworthy contacts to see where you are. 

Whether you have an iPhone or an Android device, you can quickly and easily share your location -- either on a constant basis or just temporarily -- with a trusted friend or family member. 

find-my-tabs

Use the Friends tab to invite your friends. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

iPhone users, get to know the Find My app

If you use an iPhone, set up the Find My app. It's built into iOS 13, so you don't have to download or install another app.

The free app allows approved friends or family members to monitor your location just by opening the app. You can either grant permanent access to your location or give access to your location for a set amount of time. Temporary monitoring is handy if you know you're going on a road trip, hiking or a large event and you want to reassurance that someone could find you if needed. 

Keep in mind, however, that in some situations you may not have the time or ability to send out temporary requests.

Open the Find My app, select the People tab followed by Share My Location. Enter a phone number or email address for the person(s) you want to have access to your location, and then send the invite. 

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Location Sharing in Google Maps is cross-platform, too. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Android users, use Google Maps' location sharing

Google Maps has a location-sharing feature built into it for Android users. Similar to Apple's Find My app, you can share your location with someone for a never-ending amount of time, or you can set a time limit after which your location will go back to being private. 

To share your location with someone in Google Maps, open the app and slide out the menu from the left side of the screen. Next, select Location sharing and tap on the Add button that looks like the silhouette of a person, with the "+" sign. Finally, pick how long you'd like to share your location, and then send the invite. 

Google Maps' location sharing feature isn't limited to just Android phones. That means you can send location invite to an iPhone user, or the other way around -- an iPhone could send their location to an Android user. 

And don't forget

Giving someone the ability to find you in an emergency is important, as is taking a few minutes to add your medical information and emergency contacts on your phone. Just like location sharing, it's a feature that's built into your device. We also have some advice on how to use your phone to help you during a natural disaster or if you find yourself facing an intruder situation.