Living in the iCloud

Hands on with Find My iPhone, Mac, and Friends

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Living in the iCloud

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At any time, you can view the Temporary list to see a list of temporary events and their participants. For any event, you can tap View Map to view a map with each person’s location marked; or tap Send iMessage to send a message, using the Messages app, to everyone in the group. (For the latter action, the Messages app must be configured with the Apple ID you use for Find My Friends.) You can also tap any participant to view their details. If you created the event, you can tap the event name to view a summary of the event, as well as to edit the event name and end, to remove or add participants, or to delete the event. For events you didn’t create, you can tap an event and then tap Leave Event Name to leave it.

Prevent someone (or anyone) from following you: If you decide you’d rather not let a particular person or group of people follow you, you have several options for preventing it. If the person is only following you because you’re both members of a temporary event, and you created the event, you can simply remove the person from the event; if you aren’t the event creator, you must leave the event. If the person is officially following you, you’ll need to remove them from your following list. Tap Me at the bottom of the screen to view the list of your followers, tap the person’s name, and then tap Remove From Followers.

You can also temporarily disable location sharing to prevent anyone from being able to see your location. In the Me screen, simply switch the Hide From Followers setting to On. Switch the setting back to Off to resume location sharing. While hiding, so to speak, you can still send and receive Find My Friends invitations. Unfortunately, there’s no way to selectively hide—for example, so your spouse can view your location but not your coworkers.

Use multiple iOS devices with Find My Friends: If you’ve got an iPhone and an iPad, to use a common example, you can sign in to Find My Friends on both devices using the same Apple ID. However, your friends will be able to view the location of only one device. To choose which device will locatable, tap Me at the bottom of the screen, then tap Account, then tap the desired device under Active Devices. You’ll still be able to use the Find My Friends app on any of your iOS 5 devices, but only the selected device’s location will be visible to your followers.

Other settings: The Me screen displays information about you. For example, tap the Near field to view your current location on a Google map. Just as you can assign a more-meaningful label to a friend’s location, you can rename your own current location—the location that appears to your followers. Tap Label, and then choose from one of the stock labels (Home, Work, School, Gym, or None) or create your own custom label. This is also where, as noted above, you can remove followers.

Tap Accounts on the Me screen to access a number of account-related settings. In addition to the aforementioned setting for choosing a device to be tracked, you can choose whether or not to receive friend requests; choose which of the email addresses you’ve configured on appears in the requests you send to friends; and view Find My Friend’s Help documentation.

Finally, if you manage the iOS device of, say, your child, you can use iOS’s Restrictions settings (in the General section of the Settings app) to prevent any changes to Find My Friends settings, as well as to the current friends list. Just enable restrictions (if they aren’t already enabled); provide a four-digit passcode, if necessary; scroll down to the Allow Changes section and tap Find My Friends; and then tap Don’t Allow Changes.

Creepy but fun

It’s a little disturbing to know that your precise location is visible to anyone you allow to follow you. At the same time, in my limited testing of Find My Friends, I’ve found it to be fun—with the right group of people—and even, in situations such as keeping track of family members, quite useful. The good news is that it’s entirely optional, but easy to set up and use.

[Dan Frakes is a senior editor for Macworld.]

Updated 10/13/2011, 9:55am to include note about the Email When Found option, and to note that Find My Mac can only be enabled by a user with administrative access. Updated 10/18/2011, 9:27pm to note that Find My Mac requires a Recovery HD partition.

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