How Find my Friends should work

Find my Friends is a really great idea and it’s baked right into iOS, the problem is the experience could be so much better, and it’s so hidden that nobody really knows it exists. Most confusing of all is that there is both a stand-alone Apple-made app called find my friends on the App Store which does not come installed by default, also the same functionality is baked in to the OS, but in the most convoluted location you can imagine inside the messages app.

Fundamentally the Find my Friends feature is fantastic and can be set to share for just an hour, the rest of the day or indefinitely. I share my location indefinitely with a select few people including my life partner and my business partner. People who I’m arranging to meet in the evening — and it looks like I’m either not going to be on time or it might be difficult to find each other — I shall share with for just an hour. I would share for a day in the scenario where we are at a event and may needs to split up several times and find each other again.

Here’s how you enable find my friends without the app;

1

 

• Open messages
• Select a conversation with someone you’ve already sent a message to.
Tap ‘details’ in the top-right
Tap ‘Share my location’
Tap the desired timescale
For you to see other peoples locations your friends on iOS devices must follow the same steps with your contact.

Now this is enabled, actually using this feature is a little more complicated. To find the location of a friend who has shared their location with you (something iOS does not distinguish) you must follow these steps;

2

• Open messages
• Select a conversation with someone you’ve already sent a message to and has shared their location with you (you must know this in advance).
• Tap ‘Detail’ in the top-right
• A preview of the friends location will be shown in the top half of the screen
• For a full-screen interactive version tap the map

Not obvious.

Apple do provide a standalone Find my friends app which might seem redundant considering the feature is possible without the app needing to be installed, however the app greatly simplifies the process. The process of using the native app is quite simply a case of;

3

 

• Opening the app
• Clicking the ‘Add’ button top right
• Searching for a contact you wish to invite (can only be existing contacts)
• Assuming they accept, their location is shared based on the timescales they choose.
• The notification system is handled by email – the invited user gets an invite with a call-to-action to accept, this kicks either into the open app if installed, or to the App Store if not.

The app has the added benefits of the notification functionality; this can let you know if the contact either leaves or arrives at a certain location geofenced within a custom radius. For example I could set a reminder to trigger if my partner gets within a mile of home so that I may have a drink ready for her when she arrives.

The app provides a much simpler process, but why does this app need to exist? It seems unnecessary to make an app just to simplify something that already exists in the OS but is badly designed. To follow is an idea for how I’d like to see the feature better integrated into iOS.

Here’s how I would like to see this implemented inside of iOS, natively. On everybody’s contact card an option could display to read ‘Request to share location’ providing they have a valid Apple ID. In the same way as in the Find my Friends app the contact receives a notification asking if they would allow their location to be shared. Once granted the first option would be for said user to specify the amount of time they would like to share their location; one hour, the rest of the day, or indefinitely. Assuming the request was granted the requester can be notified of this fact so that they can make use of the functionality in the given time window. Following this a reciprocal question is posed to the contact who granted their location access asking if they would like to make the same request back to the original requestor. Any contacts with whom this is been enabled should display a location icon next to the name in all contact list scenarios. Tapping this icon takes you straight to a full screen view of that contacts current location with options to adjust the share settings or navigate to their location.

4

 

This functionality could additionally be extended into both Siri and more importantly into the Apple watch. Currently on the iPhone —assuming location permissions are enabled— you can ask Siri to find <contact name>. Trying the same thing with Siri on the watch however just hands this off to the phone. What would be great is if you could both share your location from the watch and also locate friends by taking their current location directly into maps in order to navigate yourself to them – all using Siri. Walking directions on the watch are incredible and this functionality would be particularly useful if you are meeting someone in a new location.5

 

I currently use the find my friends functionality most days. Being such a major part of my the daily interactions I would love to see it evolve into a more integrated and useful feature. Admittedly it’s not for everyone. It takes a lot of trust (especially to share indefinitely) but you are always in complete control and as long as you trust those with whom you share your location there is no issue. I hope Apple extends and further integrates this functionality into their operating systems in a more usable and accessible manner in future iterations of the OS.

 

Design Technology September 8th 2015

You might also be interested in...

  • Get rid of the dock on iOSGet rid of the dock on iOS I wish if I emptied the dock on iOS of icons it disappeared. Returning once you re-entered rearrange mode and dragged an icon towards the bottom of the screen. On my iPad at least I rarely use the apps on the subsequent screens and so the […]
  • Universal Clipboard at WWDC 2016Universal Clipboard at WWDC 2016 Last night (GMT) Apple put on it’s WWDC 2016 event, and as always we were watching with eagle eyes to see what new features and innovations Apple is planning to release this autumn. One of the featured demos for the newly titled macOS was […]
  • Develop for iOS or Android first?Develop for iOS or Android first? In response the an Article by Cennydd; Why don't designers take Android seriously. We look at the iOS or Android discussion from our perspective, having worked on several apps now that span both platforms. Cennydd raises some good […]

Call to action (CTA)

A call to action is a marketing term that refers to a prompt that invokes a response leading to a sale. When referring to a call to action (CTA) in the digital design world we usually mean the interactive element that leads to the next step in the experience - something that needs to be clicked or tapped.

User testing

User testing refers to a technique used in the design process to evaluate a product, feature or prototype with real users. There are several reasons why you might want to undergo usability testing, the most common is that it allows the design team to identify friction in a user experience they are designing, so that it can be addressed before being built or deployed.

WYSIWYG

WYSIWYG (pronounced WIZ-ee-wig) is an acronym for "What You See Is What You Get". It helps identify an an interface that allows user input resulting in an output that is rendered in a similar way. For example; a word processor application interface might resemble a piece of paper,so when printed the user can see how the output will appear.

Content Management System

A content management system (CMS) is an tool that allows a website editor/administrator to manage the content that is displayed. Websites are made of HTML and CSS to create pages. Pages can be hard-coded but would require technical development skills to make changes. A CMS usually allows a person without coding knowledge to amend existing and add new content to a website using a WYSIWYG interface.

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design refers to a web page that dynamically adapts its layout to fit the size and orientation of the device on which it is viewed. A responsive design allows for a more optimised user experience across desktop and laptop computers as well as smartphones and tablets of varying sizes.

User Stories

User stories allow the functionality of a product or service to be expressed as written descriptions of an experience as seen from the users perspective. The writing of user stories creates a list of design and development tasks to complete in order to create any required functionality.

User Interface

A user interface (UI) is a conduit between human and computer interaction - the space where a user will interact with a computer or machine to complete tasks. The purpose of a UI is to enable a user to effectively control a computer or machine they are interacting with, and for feedback to be received in order to communicate effective completion of tasks.

Personas

A persona in UX Design is the characterisation of a user who represents a segment of your target audience. On a project you might create any number of personas to be representative of a range of user needs and desires. The solutions you design must answer these needs in order to deliver value to your target audience.

Card sorting

A great, reliable, inexpensive method for discovering patterns in how users would expect to find content or functionality. Card sorting is used to test the taxonomy of data with a group of subjects, usually to help inform the creation of the information architecture, user flow, or menu structure on a project.

Brainstorming

A technique used to generate ideas around a specific topic. Often done in groups, but can be done individuals. The process usually involves writing down all ideas around a topic onto paper, a whiteboard or stickies often implying some kind of association.

Minimum Viable Product

An MVP is a product that has the minimum set of features to prove the most essential hypothesis for a product. Businesses building a new product can create a Minimum Viable Product to prove that an idea is viable and warrants further investment. A further benefit being that the next stage of development can be informed by feedback obtained from testing that MVP.

Sitemap

A sitemap is a diagrammatic representation of a hierarchical system. It usually depicts the parent-sibling relationship between pages in a website, showing how sub pages might be arranged underneath their parent groupings. This arrangement forms a map of the site.

User journey

A user journey represents a sequence of events or experiences a user might encounter while using a product or service. A user journey can be mapped or designed to show the steps and choices presented as interactions, and the resulting actions.

Prototype

A prototype is draft representation built to test ideas for layout, behaviour and flow in a system. Prototypes are an indispensable tool for resolving a large number of potential issues in a concept or business before too many resources are deployed to put a design into production.

Wireframes

A Wireframe is a visual schematic that conveys a basic level of communication, structure and behaviour during the design of a system. Wireframes are low-fidelity designs that bypass including a detailed user interface or visual design, conveying just enough to get across the core idea.

Usability

To say something is usable is a qualitative statement about how easy that thing is to use. Usability is an assessment of how learnable a system is and how easy a user finds it to use. The usability of a system or product is a key factor in determining whether the user experience is a good one.

Information Architecture

Information architecture is the design and organisation of content, pages and data into a structure that aids users understanding of a system. A more organised system enables users to more easily find the information they require and complete the intended tasks.

UI Design

User Interface Design is the discipline of designing software interfaces for devices, ideally with a focus on maximising efficiency, responsiveness and aesthetics to foster a good user experience.

UX Design

The practice of User Experience (UX) Design is the coming together of many specific design related disciplines to improve the usability, responsiveness, uptake and aesthetics of a product or service.

User Experience

A general term that covers all aspects of a user's participation while engaging with something that has been designed. Usually when talking about User Experience in the digital design field it refers to the interactions, reactions, emotions and perceptions while using an app, service, website or product.

Got a problem to solve with your service? 

We'd love to hear about it. We can add value to any business that has a digital product/offering.

Book a FREE 30 min consultation

You can also call +44(0)20 3653 1310 or email us

Book a FREE 30min consultation