Getting directions to meet up with friends or finding an exact address can be a headache, but luckily iPhone has a super handy location sharing feature built right in (no third party apps required!). With just a few taps, you can share your real-time location with anyone in your contacts list for a set period of time.
And if someone has shared their location with you, your iPhone makes it easy to monitor their movement and progress on a map. This allows you to see exactly where they are, view updated ETAs, and route to their location for easy meetups.
Below, we’ll explain everything you need to know about seeing a shared location on your iPhone.
How Location Sharing works on iPhone
Location sharing uses your iPhone’s GPS and internet connectivity to broadcast its whereabouts in real-time. As the location changes, updated coordinates get sent out to anyone you’ve decided to share with.
On the receiving end, their iPhone will translate the incoming coordinates into a moving dot on a map. This allows you to track the iPhone’s location and movement just like you would an Uber or Lyft driver.
Location sharing will work with any iPhone model all the way back to the iPhone 4S. Both the sharing device and receiver simply need to be connected to the internet to transmit coordinate data.
When to Use Location Sharing on iPhone
Location sharing is extremely useful in situations where you need to rendezvous with someone or want to know if they arrived safely:
- Meeting someone at a crowded public place
- Picking someone up who doesn’t know the exact address
- Coordinating with friends/family on a road trip with multiple stops
- Tracking someone’s commute home to know their ETA
- Keeping tabs on your kids’ or elderly parents’ whereabouts for safety
The use cases for location sharing are very flexible. Just note that it does drain battery faster since it uses power-intensive GPS hardware along with cellular/WiFi networking.
How to Share Your Location from iPhone
Let’s get into the step-by-step process for sharing your location. We’ll cover how to set a length of time and customize sharing settings.
- Open the Messages app and select a conversation with the contact(s) you want to share with
- Tap the More button (labeled with ellipses ‘…’)
- Select ‘Share My Location’
- Choose a length of time to share. You can share indefinitely or pick a preset length of time (1 hour, until end of day, indefinitely). Shorter durations are better for battery life.
- Tap ‘Share for [length of time]’ to start sharing
At this point, the recipient(s) will see a map icon next to your name in Messages indicating your real-time location is available.
The first time you share location with someone, iOS will prompt additional sharing options:
- Always Share My Location: Keep sharing indefinitely with this contact even after the initial length of time expires
- Share Real-Time Location: Send coordinate updates frequently for accuracy (consumes more battery)
- Share Precise Location: Provide exact GPS coordinates rather than approximate city-level location
Now that you know how to share, let’s go over what the experience looks like when receiving a shared location on iPhone.
Viewing a Shared Location on iPhone
When someone shares their location with you, Messages makes it extremely simple to view and interact with their moving marker on a map:
- Open the Messages conversation containing the shared location
- Select their name at the top of the screen
- Tap on their profile picture
- Select ‘Location’ to open the real-time map
This will launch Apple Maps focused on their location coordinates with their profile picture hovering over the spot.
You’ll see various contextual options:
- Blue line showing location history trail
- Estimated time/distance of arrival
- Current exact address
- Ability to route to location
- Traffic conditions along route
- Satellite view and more
As they continue moving, you’ll be able to track their progress and ETA. This gives you a very accurate sense of where they are and when they’ll arrive.
If needed, tap the ‘More’ button for additional options like bookmarking the location, sharing the ETA with others via Messages, getting directions home from the shared spot, and more.
Pretty slick! Now let’s cover what happens when location sharing expires or the other party stops it.
Location Sharing Ended Early or Expired
There’s always a chance that location sharing gets cut off before the predetermined length set during initial sharing.
This could happen because:
- The sharer manually stopped sharing
- Phone battery died
- Bad cellular/WiFi signal
- Length of time expired
Regardless of the reason, your iPhone will display a message when access to their real-time location ends.
If they simply stopped sharing, you can always ask them to share again. And if a device lost signal or battery, location access typically resumes automatically once connectivity returns.
That sums up the basics of seeing and interacting with a shared location! Next we’ll cover some advanced sharing tactics.
How do i See a Shared Location on iPhone
Here are the steps to see a shared location on an iPhone:
- Open the Messages app and go to the conversation with the person who shared their location with you.
- Tap on their name at the top of the conversation.
- Tap on their profile picture.
- Tap on “Location” to open up the map view showing their real-time location.
You will now see a map with their location indicated by their profile picture hovering over a blue dot on the map. As long as location sharing is active, you will be able to see their current location and movements on the map.
You can tap on the location thumbnail for more options like getting directions to their location, sharing the location with someone else, renaming the location, bookmarking the location, and more.
The blue line trailing on the map indicates the path they have traveled while location sharing has been active. You can track both their current position and previous movements this way.
Finding People and Sharing Locations with Find My
1. Sharing Your Location
- Open the Find My app and tap the “People” tab
- Tap the “+” button and select “Share My Location”
- Enter the name or number of the person to share with and tap “Send”
- Choose to share for 1 hour, until end of day, or indefinitely
2. Naming Saved Locations
- In Find My, tap the “Me” tab
- Scroll down and tap “Location”
- Name home, work, school, gym, etc.
3. Changing the Sharing Device
- Open Find My on the device you want to share from
- Tap the “Me” tab and select “Use This [Device] as My Location”
4. Sharing Location Via Satellite (iPhone 14/15)
- Must already be sharing location
- Works without cellular/WiFi in eligible areas
- Updates every 15 minutes
5. Following a Friend’s Shared Location
- Open Find My and tap the “People” tab
- Tap the friend sharing their location
- Scroll down and tap “Ask to Follow Location”
6. Stop Sharing Your Location
- Open Find My and tap the “Me” tab
- Turn off “Share My Location”
How to See Someones Location on iMessage
Here are the steps to see someone’s location that they have shared with you on iMessage:
- Open the Messages app and go to the conversation with the person who shared their location.
- Tap on the name at the top of the conversation to open their contact info.
- Tap on the profile picture in the upper right.
- In the contact menu, tap on “Share My Location”.
- This will open up the Apple Maps application, focused on their current location.
You will see their profile picture pinned on the map at their current location. As long as they keep location sharing active, you’ll be able to see their location updating in real-time on the map.
You can tap the information button to see extra details like exactly when the location was last updated, battery level of their device, directions to their location, and more options for sharing or getting additional information.
How to See Location on iPhone When Sharing
Here are the steps to see a shared location on your iPhone when someone has shared their location with you:
- Open the Messages app.
- Tap on the conversation with the person who has shared their location.
- Tap on the contact’s name at the top of the conversation.
- Tap on their profile picture in the upper right corner.
- Tap on “Location” to open the map view.
This will open up Apple Maps showing their shared location on the map. You will see their profile picture pinned on the map at their current location.
As long as they keep location sharing active, you’ll be able to track their current location and movements in real-time.
You can tap the information button in Maps to see additional details like direction/distance to their location, exactly when it was last updated, battery level of their device, and more options for sharing the location or getting directions.
Advanced Location Sharing Tips for iPhone
While basic location sharing in Messages is pretty straightforward, there are some power user tactics you can utilize:
- Rename a shared location: To customize what displays instead of the contact’s name, tap their profile picture in the map view and select ‘Rename Location’
- Share to a Messages group: Just select a group rather than 1-on-1 conversation when sharing your location
- Share to non-contacts: Simply type in someone’s phone number even if not saved in your contacts
- Auto-share upon leaving/arriving: Use a geofence automation to trigger sharing when you leave or reach places like home/work
- Share from Control Center: Hard press the various connectivity tiles to access location sharing shortcuts
- Share via iCloud: Share an iCloud link anyone can access rather relying on SMS
Get creative with combining shortcuts like geofences with group messaging for powerful use cases like automatic family location notifications.
And if you need shared locations beyond just temporary meetups, third party apps like Life360 provide more persistent access with handy features tailored specifically for family coordination and safety.
Finally, be cognizant that location sharing does enable real-time user tracking—make sure you only share with trusted contacts!
Hopefully you now have confidence using location sharing on your iPhone for smarter meetup coordination! Let’s wrap up with some troubleshooting advice in case you run into problems.
Troubleshooting Problems with iPhone Location Sharing
Despite Apple’s user-friendly designs, you may occasionally encounter hiccups like:
- Can’t find option to share location
- Shared location not displaying on recipient’s phone
- Inaccurate or lagging location readings
- Sharing automatically stops for no reason
Here are some tips for resolving issues:
- Force close and reopen Messages app
- Toggle location sharing off/on via Settings
- Confirm cellular data/WiFi enabled for both devices
- Check for iOS updates on both devices
- Reset network settings on either device
- Make sure ‘Precise Location’ is enabled in sharing options
- Switch from WiFi to cellular if connection poor
Working through those basic troubleshooting steps will solve most problems. But if location sharing still isn’t behaving, you can reach out to Apple support for further assistance.
For the most part though, Apple’s integration of real-time location sharing works very reliably. Hopefully you now feel empowered to master this useful iPhone capability for smarter travel and coordination!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Here are some frequently asked questions about how to see a shared location on an iPhone:
How do I see a location someone shared with me on iPhone?
Open the Messages app and tap the conversation with the person who shared their location. Tap their name at the top, then tap their profile picture and select “Location” to open it in Maps.
For how long can someone share a location with me?
They can choose to share for 1 hour, until the end of the day, or indefinitely until they manually stop sharing. This is set when they initially tap to share their location.
Does the person sharing their location need to keep the Maps app open?
No, once location sharing is activated in Messages, the Maps app doesn’t need to stay open on the sharer’s end. The location updates automatically in the background.
What do I do if the shared location isn’t showing up?
Make sure location services are enabled for Messages on both devices. Force quit and re-launch the Messages app, or ask the sharer to toggle location sharing off and on.
Can I share the location I’m viewing with someone else?
Yes! In Maps you can tap the location bubble, scroll down and tap “Share My Location” to pass it along to a third party.
How can I tell if a shared location is updated in real-time?
If you see an arrow next to their profile picture pointing in the direction they’re facing, that means their iPhone is sharing “Live Location” which updates more frequently.
I only see their location history, not current position – why?
If location sharing has already expired or ended, you may only see their location trail history up to the ending point. You’ll need to request they re-share.
Does location sharing work on all iPhones?
Yes, any iPhone that supports iOS 12 or later can share and view locations through Messages. Both parties simply need an internet connection.