How to track your friends and family on Android

find my friend apps android
Credit: Derek Walter

Make the 'where are you?' text a thing of the past with one of these location-sharing applications.

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Some people are just never on time. Others won’t respond to a text when you ask them where they are. Unfortunately, these characteristics often reside with the same person, which gets quite annoying when you’re trying to meet up. 

What complicates the problem is that keeping track of someone’s whereabouts can get complicated if you have a group of friends or family members who have smartphones from both platforms. Most iPhone users just sign on to Find my Friends and don’t have to mess with anything else. There’s no such option built into Android, and of course Find my Friends is exclusive to Apple's devices.

We’re here to help. There are several great cross-platform options for location sharing, but I’ve narrowed it down to my three favorites that you should be happy with. Here they are in no particular order, so you can install it on your ever-tardy family member or friend’s phone right away.

Familo is the top cross-platform tracking app

My favorite of the batch is Familo. It looks great with a nice Material Design aesthetic, is constantly updated, and at the risk of overusing the “it just works” mantra, that saying really applies here.

The easiest part is that you can just sign up by connecting a phone number to the app. There’s no need to login with a username/password, Facebook, or some other social network.

familo

Familo works across Android and iOS to keep everyone up-to-date about their whereabouts.

Once you create a group you can invite others via SMS or email, and they can sign in to your group and control when their virtual light is on for you to see them. Another slick feature: Just touch on a contact and with one tap get directions right to their location with Google Maps.

You’ll find the ability to see when someone arrives at or leaves at a set location valuable; you can just wait for the push alert instead of constantly monitoring them. I also liked the option to select a location like “home” or “office” and get a notification when that contact arrives there. The app also offers an Android Wear version, which is perfect for sending a message or your location to another member of your network.

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familo android wear

Send a message or your location with the Familo Android Wear app.

Familo has a pretty good development pace, but if you want to live on the edge and test out new features, then grab the beta version. Otherwise check it out and see if it suits your fancy.

GeoZilla

While I liked Familo the best, you can’t really go wrong with GeoZilla. This app is also cross-platform, and I found it was very reliable and accurate every time I tried it out.

GeoZilla differentiates itself with a strong connection to other social networks. When you check-in somewhere with Swarm or Facebook, this can be broadcast to all of your contacts and networks. Integration with other services is always nice, but it felt like too many extras thrown in at once.

geozilla

GeoZilla includes messaging and social features with the ability to find out where everybody is at.

GeoZilla also offers a pretty neat location history, which could help you retrace your steps if you’re trying to remember what you did on a certain day or need to help settle an argument. Just as with Familo, you can invite others to a circle for easy location sharing.

While the app is free, a premium subscription gives you unlimited circle members, location alerts, and location history for every day. It’ll cost you $1.56 per month. You get a free month every time you invite someone else to sign up.   

Glympse

If you want a tried-and-true option that’s been around for a while, then check out Glympse. This app is especially ideal for groups of friends or office contacts who only want to temporarily share one another’s location. You can offer a “Glympse” of up to four hours at a time.

glympse

Glympse is a solid offering, with a lot of customization for how long your contacts can see you.

Glympse is more geared towards temporary sharing, so it’s not ideal if you want constant access to your child or spouse’s location. But it offers some of its own advantages in other areas, like a dedicated app for sharing your location from a car and even a Glympse keyboard, well, if that’s your thing. You can even mail someone a sharing link so they can track your location on the web without ever installing the app.

The Android Wear integration is pretty powerful, as you can look up someone’s location and and get Glympse notifications on your watch. It works well for a quick glance, but if you want to browse around at the larger area on the map, you’ll probably want your phone.

glympse android wear

With Glympse, you can check out someone’s location on your Android Wear watch.

It wasn’t long ago that there was a dearth of options for Android users when it came to location-aware apps (my previous favorite, Cabin, has withered away). Now there’s a pretty solid field, and with Android’s worldwide growth marching along, this should only continue. The other big name in the space is Life360, but I found the free version too limiting, which pushes you to a $5 per month subscription. I also it to be a big drain on battery life, whereas there wasn’t any major drain associated with my top three favorites.

But try them out for yourself, as everyone’s needs will differ. Getting everyone together on time may still be a tall task for your family, but at least you’ll know where they are.

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