Glympse: Big Mother is watching you

08/31/2014 11:55 AM

08/31/2014 11:55 AM

Here’s a helpful app for travelers, social butterflies and parents of teenagers. Glympse is designed to keep groups of people updated on one another’s whereabouts.

“Set a duration, pick a destination, choose the recipients and hit send! Glympse will take care of the rest,” it advertises. Using your phone’s GPS services, it will send a map pinpointing your location by email, SMS, Facebook or Twitter, letting people know when you’ll reach your travel destination, the bar where your friends are gathering, or the home where your parents are waiting up for you, dozing to Netflix.

You don’t have to have the free app to receive a Glympse, but you do have to have one to request or send a Glympse. The company, which just raised $12 million from investors, is integrating its services with several car manufacturers, messaging apps and navigation systems.

I tried Glympse as my family caravaned from Maryland to meet my parents at the beach in Delaware. Knowing my mother would be eager to follow our progress, I downloaded the app and sent her a location update by both text and email.

My automated text to her read: “We are on our way. Tap for a Glympse of my location,” followed by a link.

“Don’t get the tap stuff,” she texted back. I forgot that my mother doesn’t have a smartphone; obviously, only devices with Web browsers can open the maps.

My mother could open the map on her iPad, but by the time she did, it showed our location from an hour earlier. Next time, I'll specify that the map update for the maximum four hours.

Glympse’s makers say sharing a map consumes about 1 megabyte of data per hour; Glympses last a maximum of four hours not only to protect privacy but also to minimize power consumption. Both of my daughters now have the app (one had to update her phone to make it work). Unfortunately, my husband refuses to buy a smartphone, so my dream of having a Glympse group (another cool option) will have to wait.

Still, I’ve continued to use it with my daughters, and can see doing so for the long haul. My only wish is that the company would more quickly come up with a voice-command system for smartphones. At this point, it takes at least four steps to send a Glympse; more if you add the destination or a message, or want to adjust the duration. And tapping away at their phones is not something I want people doing from the road.

Glympse

Cost: Free

Operating system: iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone

Creator: Glympse Inc.

User ratings: four out of five stars (Apple, 4,131 ratings; all versions); 4 1/2 out of five stars (Google Play, 49,389 ratings)

Review’s bottom line: Helpful for people with smartphones

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