The best location finding & location change alert apps. Know what to look for.
Updated: Jan 1
If you have a SmartPhone, consider using location finding apps to allow trusted family, friends and caregivers to find you if you’re lost or wandering.
These apps allow people you trust and authorize to:
Request your location online through a web browser or an app,
Receive alert messages when you leave a safe location or arrive at a specific location, and
See your location history for ideas on where to search if you are missing and your SmartPhone is offline or has been left behind.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
A voice, text and data services plan, with one exception: Data not required for Apple's "Find-My-iPhone" feature.
A location sharing app, and
Someone you trust to check on your location.
There are no additional costs if you already have a SmartPhone with a voice, text and data services plan.
The apps recommended below are free but some have more feature rich options for a fee. For example, The Live360 app I recommend for using with Android SmartPhones when you want location change alerts also has a premium subscription option for $25us. It has a few extra features and lets you add multiple location change alerts (the free plan only supports 2 specified locations).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Apps that only share location upon request (saves battery power).
Option to send location change alerts (when leave or arrive at a pre-specified location).
Location History (breadcrumbs to inform a search for when you don't have your phone or it is not connected to the network (no power, phone turned off, or location sharing turning off)
An app that only requires one-time set-up and activation (for reliability).
RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Apple’s Find My Friends app and/or
Access to Find-My-iPhone on your iCloud Account
For Androids (All Other SmartPhones):
Google’s Trusted Contacts if you don't need location change alerts.
Live360 for Android owners who do need location change alerts.
Consider augmenting your SmartPhone with a Medic Alert Bracelet.
Medic Alert bracelets are a low-cost, simple, proven safety backup. The best ones include a 24*7 assistance support line that have your emergency contacts on file. Anyone good samaritan can help you by calling the number on your bracelet!
WHAT TO AVOID
Constant location monitoring and updates. Example: You don't want to use Location Sharing in Google Maps. It uses too much battery power. Your battery can run down within hours.
Requirement to regularly open or re-activate the app. Example: Live360 is a good app but must be opened daily to work. It's easy to forget to activate it every day.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
Will it work if the phone is turned off or battery not charged?
No. When the device is turned off, the battery is dead, or Location Sharing is turned off, the only information available is last known location or location history. Some apps limit number of days and duration of location history.
Can I turn 'location sharing' off from my SmartPhone?
Yes. You are in control.
Can I use my SmartWatch instead of carrying my Smartphone?
Yes - for the Apple Watch Series 2 (GPS only) & Series 3 (GPS & Cellular).
No - for all the other watches I've investigated. It may be possible, but I have not yet found a consumer SmartWatch other than the Apple Watch Series II or III where you can be found online through GPS only in North America. (There are purpose built GPS only devices but they are a very different solution).
WANT MORE DETAIL?
Explore our posts or Library of printable resources under Wandering.
Wishing you all the best,