Have you heard of this app? It is a way to share your location, in real time, with anyone through text, email, Twitter, or Facebook. A colleague sent me a review earlier this fall, and it looked like something really interesting. The review was Caught a Glimpse of Glympse? Either Scarily Awesome, or Awesomely Scary… by Peter Shankman. The review is pretty dead-on with regard to the conundrum of whether it is scary or cool. I guess your opinion will depend on your level of paranoia about big brother (or your legitimate concern over privacy and electronic peeping Toms).
I remember hearing about something similar to Glympse called Google Latitude at a conference a few years ago and thinking it sounded creepy. It is similar in that it allows up to 100 of your closest friends, family, and colleagues to know where you are at any given time. I didn't really want everyone to be able to see where I was at any given time, even if it was "friends" that I chose. Not that I spend a lot of time in places where I shouldn't be; it's just the principle of the idea. It also didn't make much sense that you could "mask" your location on Latitude; that seemed to defeat the purpose. One review stated that it was nice to be able to use to see if there were friends or family near your location for impromptu meetups, but it seems like foursquare is good for that as well.
Glympse, on the other hand, gives more flexibility with regard to privacy and can be really helpful at the same time. When Latitude was discussed, it was mentioned that it would be good for parents to be able to know where their children were at any time. That's nice, but with Glympse you can see where they are as they travel to and from where they say they are going. This may sound extreme to some, especially teenagers, but it would have been really handy when I was traveling back and forth from Tennessee to my parents' house for the 20 years or so that I made that trip. My Dad had my trip timed closely enough to know when I should be in Paducah (the halfway point and pit stop) and when I should be at my destination. More than once, I would call him and hear, "Well, I would have thought you would have been there about 15 or 20 minutes ago." Had Glympse been around then, he could have seen where I was in real-time and known which route I was taking. I have used it recently when traveling back and forth from St Louis to my parents' house and it has been handy. I email a Glympse to my Mom, and she can use her Kindle Fire to watch me travel and see me arrive at my destination. For me, in this regard, it is a worry saver.
To start a Glympse, you choose who and how you'll share the information. You can use text, email, Facebook, and Twitter. I have used text and email because I only share my route with specific people for specific trips. You can save contacts to Glympse or import from your contact list or Facebook. After you choose who and how you'll share your route, you enter your destination. Glympse will automatically try to match what you are typing if you use the name of a business, or you can enter the exact street address. If you use a destination often, you can also save those. At this point, you can enter a message to be delivered with the link to your Glympse. It can be your own message or can be chosen from one of the existing choices (i.e. "On my way."). You can also leave the message blank. Once you have completed these steps, the last thing to do is choose how long you will share your link. You can share for up to four hours, so if your trip is longer than that, you'll need to resend the Glympse. That is easily done because the app keeps track of your recent trips and you can just choose from that list, set the time again, and send.
Since you can only share for a maximum of four hours per trip, your link is not live indefinitely. The recipients, even if through Facebook and Twitter, can only see your location and route for the time you designate. With Latitude, your location is available to friends 24/7 unless you disable your location in the app. Glympse is also nice if you need to help a friend who has taken a wrong turn. You can enlarge the view and see the street names and a marker showing where the driver is located. If they have made a wrong turn or gone too far, you can see street names to tell them how to get back on track. You can also set other parameters such as expiring trip upon arrive and broadcasting your speed (mph or km/h). Broadcasting your speed can be a hindrance depending on who you are sharing your information with. The app will also give you an estimated time of arrival for the traveler based on speed and mileage.
You can view Glympse on the Web, but there are also Apple and Android apps available for smart phones. There is one advantage to the Android app that I have not see with the iPhone app. With Android, you have the option to see a street-level view of the traveler's route, meaning you can see houses and business along the street or highway they are on.
On thing to remember, which is pointed out in many reviews I've seen, is that when you send a Glympse you are quickly caught if you stray from your route. So if you say you are coming straight home from school or work and decide to take a detour to a friend's house or to the local watering hole, then you're caught. If you are on company time and run personal errands, you're caught. Be careful, or cognizant, that the recipient(s) of your Glympse can see where you are at anytime during the duration of time you set for the trip.
I have played around with this app for about a month now. At this point, I really like it. It provide peace-of-mind for those expecting you or who know you're on the road. It's also convenient to keep track of someone's expected arrival time. For me, this app is convenient and helpful. I don't feel nervous about privacy because the information is only broadcast to those I choose and only for a limited amount of time. Beyond that, I have to trust the privacy statement with the app.
If you are going to be traveling over this holiday season, download the app and send your hosts or family a Glympse when you set out on your trip. I think parents, in particular, will appreciate this app and travelers will not have to answer "where are you now" multiple times during their trip.
Here is a video demo of the app -