3 ways to tell someone exactly where you are

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Have you ever needed to tell someone exactly where you are standing, or where you’re parked, or even where you are at the moment if you’re driving or walking or biking? If you’re not near a street sign, or at a place where you know the actual address, telling someone your location can be sort of difficult. Recently I’ve found 3 ways that make this easier.

your location

 

Here’s why I am interested in this type of thing at the moment.

Later this summer, there will be a race here in the Tampa Bay area called the Pinellas Trail Challenge. It’s a 46-mile ultramarathon that takes place the Saturday of Labor Day weekend (September 5). I’m not running in it because it would be way too hot. However, I am going to work as “mobile crew” for one of the runners. I will be on my bike, and I’ll be pulling a small trailer with a cooler filled with ice and other supplies. I’ve already been incorporating the biking in with my regular training, and have about 25 pounds of weight in the cooler. This is what it looks like:

bike crew

 

The Pinellas Trail is a paved walking/running/biking path that starts in downtown St. Pete (by the St. Pete Pier) and goes all the way up into northern Pinellas county. So this race just follows the entire 46-mile path of that trail.

The thing about this race is that it’s unsupported. This means that it’s not like a 10k or a marathon where you have aid stations set up every few miles. Your “aid stations” are public drinking fountains and the convenience stores that are located near the trail (or volunteers, such as what I’m doing). So you have to really be prepared to carry what you can, and buy whatever else you need along the way.

Inevitably, there will be people who will drop out before getting to the finish line. The Florida heat, in late summer, in the daytime, on a trail with very little shade, is no small factor. Everyone has to carry a cell phone just in case a call needs to be made for a friend or family member to come and pick up the runner.

overheated runner

 

But if the runner is just on some random stretch of pavement, how does he tell the friend where to pick him up? If you’re waiting at a business, you can use the address of the business. But otherwise, if you aren’t standing a an intersection of streets, you might not be able to verbally tell someone where you are.

So I found these 3 apps that will work on your smartphone, and each one will enable you to tell someone exactly where you are waiting to be picked up.

what 3 words

1. What3Words (what3words.com)

Free

I actually wrote a full blog post on this one several weeks ago (here). This app divides the entire world into a grid of 3 meter square cells. Each of these cells has a unique name, which consists of 3 common words. So no matter where you are in the world, the spot where you’re standing has a 3-word address.

You just pull out your phone, open the What3Words app, and get the 3-word location for where you are. When you tell someone else that location, they can plug it in on the same app on their phone, then just instruct their GPS to guide them to where you are.

Here’s a quick video explaining how it works:

https://youtu.be/czR4-7gP7f0

 

Glympse

2. Glympse (Glympse.com)

Free

This is an app I’ve heard a lot of people talking about but I had not used it previously. I like it.

Basically, it just gives someone the ability to see where you are on a map. So if you “send” someone a Glympse (by choosing them from your contacts list on your phone), they can see where you are so they’ll know when you will arrive. Or, you can “request” a Glympse from someone you’re waiting on, so you can have an idea of when they’ll show up.

My daughter lives about 10 minutes away and one day last week I knew she would be coming over so I requested a Glympse from her. She accepted the request, and when I looked at the Glympse app on my phone, there was the green arrow, right at her condo. Then it started moving and I could “see” her traveling down the road. I could even tell when she was at a red light because the arrow would stop for a minute or two at an intersection.

This might sound a little creepy. But one thing to remember is that your location is only viewable by the person (or group of people) that you send it to. And, you can authorize it for a set period of time. When my daughter used it, she just set it to track her location for 15 minutes. That would probably be the most common one, if you’re just using it for when you’re meeting someone.

Here’s a video from when Glympse was featured on the Today show last year:

 

map my ride

3. Map My Ride (mapmyride.com)

$5.99/month for Pro version

Map My Ride is the program I use to keep track of my bike workouts (if you use it too, friend me and we can see each other’s progress). They do have a free version (and the free version would probably be sufficient for most people). The Pro version is $6/month (or you can pay annually and save some money). With Pro, you get some additional features – and one of those is called Live Tracking. It is shut off by default, but you can turn it on for when you will be out on your bike.

Map My Ride is sort of a social network for cyclists. You can “friend” people just like you do on Facebook or other social websites. So when you turn on Live Tracking, anyone that you’re friends with can see where you are on a map. I think the main reason people would use this is for safety reasons. If my wife were going to go biking in the dark (late at night or early morning), I would want to be able to see where she is, just in case anything happened and I needed to get to her quickly.

In a bike race, it could be handy as well because anyone watching your progress would have an idea of when you’ll be crossing the finish line, so they can be there to greet you.

I’m not sure I’ll use this feature in the September race though – mainly because the GPS would probably drain the battery on my phone when it’s tracking me for a such an extended period of time (probably 11 or 12 hours). I’ll have to experiment with that to see how quickly it uses up my battery.

MapMyRide is just one of several fitness tracking apps put out by the same company – they also have MapMyRun, MapMyFitness, MapMyWalk and MapMyHike. I couldn’t find a video that explained the MapMyRide Live Tracking feature specifically, but here is a review that talks about this app along with 4 other cycling apps:

 

So there are 3 apps that can always be available to you on your phone, to allow you to quickly show someone else where you are at any given time. I know there are others but these are among the most popular. Do you use a different one? In what type of situation(s) would you find something like this handy? Leave a comment.

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Michael Scott
July 16th, 2015

You DO, remember, have to have a dataplan on your phone in order for these apps to work.

In Canada, where we get absolutely HOSED by the our only TWO main cell providers……some people try to get by using just Wi-Fi and the good graces of nearby restaurants, coffee shops and other public “hot spots” to jump on to the net.

This wouldn’t work, of course, if you’re out in the middle of nowhere……say, halfway through a triathlon!

For all the “rich” people, though……..thanks! 🙂