Sunday, August 15, 2010

Groups and Locating Friends

One of iTrakMe's core features is to see where your friends are currently located.  So, for example, if you're going to meet some friends somewhere but are arriving separately you can use Groups to see each other as you try to meet up.  Another use is to stay in contact as you split up, say, to explore different parts of town.  Each member of the group is identified by a purple pin on the primary map view.  Clicking the pin displays that person's name (or whatever tagline they want to use for themselves.)

So a group is simply defined by the unique group code that one of you generates using the "Start New Group" button in the Sharing section of the app.  You share this code with the members of the group who then enter it into the Group Id text box. 

There's a few settings in the Sharing view to control your group.  Beside the "Start New Group" button there an option bar to set the "time until expiration" which is the time when the group code becomes invalid (and useless).  By default it's set to 1 hour but you have the option of setting it to 10 minutes or to 24 hours.  In addition you can quickly email your friends the group code using the "Share Group" button.  The "Cancel Group" button will cancel the code and this can only be done by the one who originally create the group code.

To use the code go back to the main view, find the Group menu using the arrow navigation buttons and ping the group.  The ping will generate a purple pin at your current location. 

When you tap the "Show Group" button iTrakMe will zoom out to encompass of members of the group who have pinged.  It's as simple as that.  It should be noted that each member of your group needs to ping the group before anyone can see them. And of course only the members can see each other; other iTrakMe users do not see your group, it's private.

Pinging others in your group is a manual operation. That is, if you don't ping the group the others will never see your location.  But what if you don't want to have to ping them every 10 minutes?  Then use the "Activate Auto" button on the group menu.  Toggling this button will cause iTrakMe to send a ping out every few minutes as you move about.  Tap the button again and the auto-pinging is turned off.

Groups are one of the more exciting features of iTrakMe and I'd love to hear from you if you have come up with any unique uses for Groups.

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