Version Reviewed: 1.0
iPhone Integration Rating:
User Interface Rating:
As Martha Ross states on her blog, “I’ve found many apps that send your location to others but somehow all these apps assume that all your friends have an iPhone and have installed the same app as you do” and she is very right. There are plenty of apps out there that will take your position using GPS and relay it to your friends. I have several of them including the most well known Loopt. However, unless my friends also have Loopt, and in most probability an iPhone too, then I’m broadcasting my location to thin air.
So Martha Ross did something about it and decided to develop an app that broadcasts the user’s location to their Facebook account, rather than just those that also have the app. Now obviously not everyone has Facebook, but if you’re someone, you have Facebook, that’s all I need to say. By using the GPS in your iPhone, as well as the Facebook Connect functionality, Map Social lets you update your profile’s feed with your current location. Not just that but you can add a little note explaining where you are or what you’re doing and a nice little map is displayed on your profile courtesy of Google. It’s simple, but genius, and is something that should have been available from the start of the app store. It immediately makes my Loopt application redundant – deleting now.
[caption id="attachment_18639" align="aligncenter" width="505" caption="That\'s where I am!"]
The interface is quite simple; you have one page with a massive blue button which you hit when you’re happy with the GPS accuracy, and a second page that lets you customise the message that is sent to Facebook with your location. The app also stores your Facebook information so you don’t have to enter it each time. Martha Ross has gone to great lengths explaining how the app works on her blog, and she assures users that little to no information is ever retained concerning your location and none of your personal information is stored. In fact, as soon as you update your location it erases the previous data (as Facebook links to her site for a larger map). Some may not like that any of this information is hosted on her site, but it’s kept under a random URL each time that it would be near impossible for anyone else to access. It’s great that previous locations are deleted as it keeps your location up to date for your Facebook friends, however you’ll find that previous entries aren’t removed from your news feed and any friend clicking on those entries will be redirected to the newer one. This may be out of the developers control though, depending on what an app can access on your Facebook profile, I am unsure.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="Hit the button when you're ready to be located."][img id="media.0.jpg"][/caption]
The app is great and does something that is much needed, and should be very popular with users. However, given the simplicity of it I imagine it will not take long before we see free equivalents in the app store. Also while it does what it claims to without problem, you do feel a little as though something is missing, or that it could at least be designed slightly better. Granted, the downside to Loopt and others is that there are often too many features, but is there any reason to have two separate pages to the app? It could quite easily have a button and text input on one page. The app is also referred to as MapMe on Facebook, so I’m not sure the reasoning behind the inconsistent names. It might see more adoption as a 99 cent app, but if you travel a lot and use Facebook as your primary social network, there really is no better way to keep people up to date with your travels.