Glympse vs. Find My Friends

Compare two top friend and family location sharing apps

Illustrated man, woman, back to back, boxes flowing between smartphones
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If you've ever tried to keep track of a group of friends or family members at a big venue such as an amusement park, a sports arena, or the beach, you know what a hassle it can be to stay in touch via texting. Fortunately, a number of apps on the market help you share your personal location and simultaneously see the location of selected friends and family.

The two top free location sharing apps, Glympse and Find My Friends each have distinct advantages. Consider these features when deciding which location-sharing app is the best one for you.

What Is Glympse?

Glympse allows you to share your location on a dynamic map. You may share your location with others who have the app, but you can also send a Glympse location-sharing link that shows your real-time location via an ordinary web browser. 

In addition to phones, Glympse works with most Android tablets that have GPS functionality. You don't have to enter a phone number to share your location.

If you are traveling and wish to share your current location, destination, and estimated time of arrival with a friend or family member, it's easy to set up in Glympse. Simply start the app and tap Share Location. You may then enter the email address or phone number of your Glympse recipient.

Screenshot of Glympse for Android allowing access to contacts
Robert Earl Wells III 

Glympse draws directly from your email, Twitter, or Facebook contacts if you give it permission. You should be prompted to do so the first time you use the app.

After you have selected your recipient, you can select an expiration time for your Glympse (up to four hours maximum), and you may also input your destination using a search utility linked to a global map along with a message. Select among prewritten messages ("Almost there!") or type your own.

When you send your Glympse, your recipient receives an email or message with a map and an invitation to "view this Glympse." For a nice added feature, your recipient does not need to register or log in to view your Glympse map and message.

Screenshot of Glympse for Android showing how long you are sharing your location for

Additional information, such as your travel speed, appears on your route screen as well; however, you may opt not to show your speed or other specific information on the Glympse map. You may modify your current Glympse share or stop sharing at any time.

Keep in Touch With Glympse Groups

To help multiple friends or family members keep track of each other, you may set up a Glympse Group on a shared Glympse map. Groups may be viewed on the app or via a simple web link, so members do not need to register with Glympse.

What Is Apple's Find My Friends?

Apple's Find My Friends app, which comes free with Apple's iOS, is an effective friend locator but differs from Glympse in several ways. Find My Friends is based more on the Apple ecosystem, and it requires location sharers to be registered Apple users. Unlike Glympse, users must have the app installed on their Apple device to participate.

Apple Find My Friends App showing a location
Robert Earl Wells III 

Find My Friends Geofences

One powerful feature that distinguishes Find My Friends is its ability to set up a geofence. This feature is ideal for a parent who wants to set up a location radius around her child's school or home to be notified of departures and arrivals from the prescribed area.

That said, Find My Friends gives users the option to hide their location from others as well, so your kids could figure out how to game your system.

Glympse vs. Find My Friends: Which Is Better?

If everyone you know uses Apple products and has the app installed, then Find My Friends may be the better option, especially if you want to monitor the location of small children. That said, Find My Friends does not have Glympse's travel map and estimated time of arrival features.

Overall, Glympse fulfills its promise as a simple yet effective location-sharing tool that does not require recipients to register, and it gives users control over their privacy. For those reasons, Glympse gets the nod unless you need Apple's geofence feature.