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Written by: Mike Yang

Google has spent a lot of time and money on security over the last few years, developing new technologies and systems to protect users’ devices. One of the newer technologies the company has come up with is designed to provide security for users themselves rather than their laptops or phones.
On Monday Google launched a new app for Android called Trusted Contacts that allows users to share their locations and some limited other information with a set of close friends and family members. The system is a two-way road, so a user can actively share her location with her Trusted Contacts, and stop sharing it at her discretion. But, when a problem or potential emergency comes up, one of those contacts can request to get that user’s location to see where she is at any moment. The app is designed to give users a way to reassure contacts that they’re safe, or request help if there’s something wrong.
“Once you install the Android app, you can assign “trusted” status to your closest friends and family. Your trusted contacts will be able to see your activity status — whether you’ve moved around recently and are online — to quickly know if you’re OK. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe, you can share your actual location with your trusted contacts,” Minh T. Nguyen, a software engineer at Google, said.
A key feature of the Trusted Contacts app is that if a contact requests a user’s location and the user doesn’t reply in a given period of time, the app will share the location automatically.
“And if your trusted contacts are really worried about you, they can request to see your location. If everything’s fine, you can deny the request. But if you’re unable to respond within a reasonable timeframe, your location is shared automatically and your loved ones can determine the best way to help you out. Of course, you can stop sharing your location or change your trusted contacts whenever you want,” Nguyen said.
The new app, which is only available for Android right now but may be released for iOS later, also conveys some data other than the user’s location, including battery level. Although there isn’t an iOS app yet, users can track a Trusted Contacts user by signing in to the service in a browser on an iPhone or computer. Users always have the option of removing people from the Trusted Contacts list or to stop receiving notifications about another user’s location, Google said.
Image: Phrawr, CC By 2.0 license.