Yesterday I blogged about two of Apple's new iOS 5 apps: Trailers and Cards and today I wanted to take a look at its third: Find My Friends (App Store, free). Find My Friends is the Apple equivalent of location-based services like Google Latitude mashed up with the radar feature in the latest foursquare app.
It works like this: add friends in the app, and they receive an email asking them to opt into sharing their location information with you. If they do, you'll see their location in your All Friends page (pictured). You can even see your friend's locations neatly plotted on a map (below) by clicking on the All Friends button.
As you'd expect the service is completely opt-in, meaning that the recipient must agree to share their location with the requester. Sorry stalkers, no following random people that don't know you.
Besides the social implications of always knowing where your friends are, or tracking down local buddies when you're out on the town, I'm not really sure of what to make of this app. Apple trots out a few other use cases, including meeting friends at an outdoor concert, keeping track of the family on the ski slopes and seeing when your out-of-town guest has made it past baggage claim.
One of the most interesting aspects of Find My Friends is its temporary feature. This allows you to request permission for a friend's location for a finite period of time, like one hour or one week. This actually makes a lot of sense for a weekend camping trip or a day at the amusement park. When the trip is over, the sharing ends, too. One example that Apple has used is of someone hosting a party and requesting all the attendees locations temporarily so that he could make sure that they found his house ok. Now that's pretty cool.
I guess that someone that actively uses existing social-location services might adopt an Apple-branded equivalent, but I'm not sure that it's something that I would use. Truthfully, I've only had one person accept my FMF invitation so far (Thanks Parkemon!), so I haven't exactly been able to put the service through its paces. Maybe I'll come around, but Find My Friends is really more for 20-somethings than it is for people that are married with kids.