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Google will discontinue its emergency location sharing app Trusted Contacts in December, and has already yanked it from the Google Play Store. Instead, it’s directing existing users to try similar but less helpful features in Google Maps. That’s a shame, because while Trusted Contacts could let you find a family member even if they don’t respond (say, if they are unconscious or in danger), Google Maps requires them to proactively broadcast their location to you.

The announcement was quite abrupt:

Google’s email announcement
Ian Carlos Campbell

Google Maps has been able to do real time location sharing since 2017, but again, you have to opt-in to constant tracking, sharing your location with other people all the time instead of only broadcasting it to loved ones if you don’t respond. Trusted Contacts, by comparison, allows you to add people to your contacts who you’d like to instantly share your locations with in case of emergency. If one arises, your contacts can request a status update to see if you’re alright and you can respond with your location to reassure them. If you don’t respond, the app automatically shares your last known location so they can send for help.

When Google originally launched Trusted Contacts, it created this GIF to show how it works:

Folding other apps and features into Google Maps has been Google’s strategy for a while, but the Maps feature doesn’t feel quite as valuable. And while it’s possible the Trusted Contacts app didn’t have a lot of users, those who were counting on it will need to find something else.

Google is ending support for the app in December, but you’ll be able to download your contacts from your Trusted Contacts page until the app is shut down. Until then, you might as well get familiar with Google Maps’ take on location sharing.



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