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Apple's newest iOS social tool, Find My Friends, really should be called Find My Friend's iPhone. Basically an inversion of Find My iPhone, the original cloud-based locator app, this latest option tracks the GPS of invited buddies and lets you know where they are – assuming, of course, that their trusty iOS devices are at hand.
Getting started is as simple as signing in with your Apple iCloud ID and sending out a few invites. Once your pals get back to you – that is, if they're keen on having you know their whereabouts on a moment's notice – you’ll see their locations begin to populate your list and world map.
As we've come to expect from Apple’s iOS offerings, Find My Friends has a fair amount of gloss applied to its otherwise clean interface, though the faux leather aesthetic is a tad garish. And the options here are fairly limited: you can check in on the people you're following and invite other friends into your circle, and selecting a follower brings up his/her current location and any contact into you have listed.
It's easy to point fingers at privacy issues with Find My Friends, but it's actually quite secure, as expiration dates can be added to invites, plus a slider quickly hides your location from the world. The app's password protection kicks in after a short period of inactivity, so your friends won't be peeped by anyone who borrows your phone. Since it's iCloud based, however, families who share an Apple ID won't be able to follow each other until they open individual accounts. And though FaceTime and messaging are incorporated within the app, it doesn't allow for in-app texting or directions.
The bottom line. Find My Friends isn't quite as essential as some Apple releases, but it does what it's supposed to do: bring us all a little closer together.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Simple interface. Solid privacy settings. Effortless socializing.
No internal texting or directions. iCloud requirement shuts out families who share an Apple ID. Leather UI is a bit ugly.