Android’s Trusted Contacts app is no more. Google says it’s shutting down the app in December and has pulled it from the Google Play Store. That’s OK, though: There are alternatives you can try.
If you haven’t used “Trusted Contacts” before, here’s how it worked. You could use the app to flag saved contacts as your “Trusted Contacts,” who could then check on your location at any time. While that might sound creepy, the service was a useful safety tool for everything from checking in on a friend’s first date to making sure a loved one is safe during a natural disaster.
Google’s shutdown is abrupt, but the Trusted Contacts app will remain usable until December 1. You should download any contact information you have saved in the app, then start looking for an alternative.
Google recommends users switch to Google Maps’ location sharing feature instead, which is similar to Trusted Contacts. However, Google Maps requires users keep their device’s location data turned on and constantly broadcasting to their family members — something many users won’t want to do. Part of Trusted Contacts’ appeal was that it did not require users to show their location at all times, and only showed where you were if you did not respond to a check-in request after several minutes.
Other location sharing apps
If you’d prefer a non-Google option for tracking and contact trusted family and friends, there are a handful of other apps that do (mostly) the same thing:
- Life360 (Android, iOS): Life360 lets users create a private group that can all track each other’s movements. There are three plans available starting at $6 per month, each with varying allowances for daily check-ins, location history, driving alerts, and even stolen phone insurance.
- Glympse (Android, iOS): Glympse is a simple app that lets you send your location history to others or request someone else’s whereabouts. Locations are shared and saved temporarily; there’s no long-term tracking. Only one person needs to have Glympse downloaded, which is a nice touch, but it can’t do “no response” check-ins like Trusted Contacts could.
- Find My (iOS): The Find My app is the most similar service to Google’s Trusted Contacts, but it’s iOS-only. That precludes it as an option for the Android-only crowd, but it’s worth noting if you use an iPhone alongside your Android devices or make the jump to Apple’s products in the future. Find My is available on any Apple device and can be used to locate a missing phone or see where approved contacts are at any time.
- Your carrier services (Android, iOS): Many phone servicer providers offer their own family-tracking and location-sharing apps. These are usually extra features you have to sign up for, which get tacked onto your monthly bill, but they’re worth considering if you have a family plan with multiple lines you want to track.
- WhatsApp and other social media apps (Android, iOS): Several social media apps — including WhatsApp, Messenger, and Snap Chat — let you broadcast your location and view the location for other users who have the setting turned on. These features aren’t as reliable as dedicated family-tracking apps, but they’re easy alternatives from apps most of us already have installed.