We all have GPSs in our pockets, but there’s no good way to share a fundamental piece of information: where we’re at. Google Latitude feels invasive, broadcasting our coordinates all the time. (Your blind date needs to meet you for dinner, not follow you home afterward.) And Foursquare just feels kind of pointless. (Unless you care that I’M EATING SUSHI RIGHT NOW RIGHT HERE, AND I DO IT MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE!!)
Tehula ($1) is a new iPhone app that can ask where your friends are with the touch of a button. The request is sent via text message, and even if they don’t have the app or even an iPhone, all your friend needs to do is click a link to share their coordinates.
"The basic premise is that we’ve all been confronted with situations where we are waiting for someone, they run late, and usually what follows is a mix of phone calls to ask them where they are, and them looking for a street sign or struggling with their GPS app while on speaker phone," explains Tehula developer Adrien Friggeri. "This is broken."
Testing the app, I found the experience satisfyingly barebones. Requesting a friend’s location is as simple as snagging their name from your address book. A log screen keeps track of whether or not they’ve texted back, in case you miss the push notification.
Their precise location appears through the Google Maps API, allowing you to pinpoint the position easily. (Another great feature I suggested was guessing the address or allowing me to map my path to this location—as of now, this shared location information is merely a zoomable graphic. Interestingly enough, this is planned for the app’s next version release.)
Tehula also addresses user concerns at its core. It’s smart enough to circumvent a core problem of its own growth, allowing only one side of the conversation to have the app for it to work. And issues of privacy—the most worrisome part of sharing our GPS coordinates—are addressed on the same page from which a new user shares their location. Tehula doesn’t store or sell any of your information.
In fact, the idea is so simple, firing off a URL in a text message to check a phone’s location through its browser, that you’ll wonder why more apps (and even phones!) haven’t built this functionality into their core. Because it’s not such an unreasonable question, is it? Where are you at?