Glympse is a free-of-cost web service using which you can share your location in real-time with people you choose. You can send a notification called a “glympse” via email, SMS, Facebook or Twitter to the recipient(s). The app has won a few awards and was recently integrated into Garmin’s Navigon software and Ford's smart cars. The powerful app has numerous possibilities of use. Glympse is supported on Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phone.
Setting up Glympse (left), Creating a glympse (right)
Features and usability
Once you install the app, you are good to go. There are no sign ups and no profiles to be created. Pick the recipient, set the timer for your estimated time of arrival, add a message and choose your destination.The recipients will get a glympse containing a link to your location in real time marked on a Google map, along with the message. The recipient need not install Glympse to view this information. All he or she needs is a device connected to the Internet. You can make your location public or share it with one or more people or with a group. You can share your location using Facebook, Twitter and other apps that you may have installed on your phone. The glympse stays live until the timer expires. After that, your location can no longer be viewed. So you can share your location for zero seconds, which would be just a check-in, or share it till your journey ends. The longest duration for which the timer can be set is four hours.
For routes you take frequently, you can save the glympse in “Favorites”. You can set up a glympse and save it for later use. Glympse enables users to add events from their phones’ calendars so that the recipients of their locations would know of their arrival at the event. You can cancel or delete a glympse while still on your way. All your glympses are stored in the "History" folder unless you delete them. You can also request people to convey their location via a glympse.
We found that the location marker on Glympse was not accurate but was within tolerance limits. As the GPS on your phone keeps running for the entire duration the glympse is being transmitted, it voraciously hogs battery power. Also, for real-time location tracking to actually happen, the user needs to have at least a 3G connection. The performance of the app depends on your device’s battery life and the availability of a fast connection.
A freshly marked glympse on a map. The dottled line indicates the route.
The UI is simple and clean. Setting up and sending a glympse is quick and easy. With the introduction of support for group glympses, using the interface has become a tad complex, but it’s doesn’t hamper the UI’s navigability greatly.
Privacy is a major concern with any location sharing app. Handling location sharing selectively differentiates Glympse from other location sharing services. The user initiates the glympse, determines its duration and chooses the recipients. Users can share their locations with as many or as few people as they like, including with their social networks. All these parameters can be changed easily without negotiating with complicated settings in the app. For those who shy away from marking their locations online, this is a reasonable way of keeping nosey parkers and stalkers at bay.
If you are a parent of a teen learning to drive, or an overbearing spouse, you could use it to watch the trail of your near ones, every step of the way. Business users could send a courtesy notice embedded in a glympse to their co-workers or customers to indicate their ETA. Using group glympses, you could find your friends after you have fanned out inside an amusement park. If you are running late for an event, you could send a glympse to everyone who needs to know your location and time of arrival so that you don’t have to inform them all separately about these details. You could even use Glympse as a personal safety app, sharing your location with loved ones or emergency response services. This is a versatile app, which can be used in as many ways as its users can think of. All they need to do is take a battery pack along.