By June 10, 2013

Get a better ETA with Glympse

“When will you be over?”

“Uh … anywhere between 1PM and 5:45PM.”


This is the kind of conversation I had with my friends for the last twenty years. I am terrible with directions, and not very good at estimating time or distances. Coupled with my fear of being late this means that I usually arrive very early for events. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to show up to a friend’s house 45 minutes early, and I’ve come up with all kinds of mitigation plans to kill time.

About two months ago my friend wurmr and his wife Beckernaut were coming over to our house for Burger and Board Game night.

“When will you be over?” I typed into GTalk.

All I got back in reply was a link. I clicked it, and saw a map of wurmr’s part of town, along with an arrow indicating his position and direction. A little blurb showed his speed, arrival time, and how long I could monitor his movement.

A fake ass Glympse, but you get the idea.

He introduced me to the world of Glympse, and it’s been super handy ever since.

How it works

Glympse is an app for Android, iPhone, Windows Phone 7/8 and BlackBerry (lol). The app uses your phone’s GPS. You control who gets to see your Glympse and for how long.

The Android app (and presumably the other operating systems) use your address book, so it’s super easy to share your location with your friends.

You can set expiration by time (anywhere from an immediate “here I am” ping to 4 hours) or by location. Glympse remembers your most recent time selection and several of your recent locations to make repeat Glympses easy. You can even save Glympses; I let Sedagive? know when I’m coming home every day so she knows when to expect me and to roll hot if something happens.

Options options options!

One of the things I like most about Glympse are the options. Here are some:

  • Select contacts via email address book or social media connections (Facebook, twitter, etc). It would be awesome if I could share to Facebook groups I’ve created or belong to, but instead it just posts
  • Share to apps such as Google Hangouts, LinkedIn, Google+, SMS, etc.
  • Choose from standard messages such as “On my way!” “Here I am!” or “I think I’m lost.” You can write your own as well.
  • You can choose a destination. Glympse will store prior places you’ve “Glympsed” to, as well as from your address book. If you arrive at your destination your Glympse terminates, even if you arrive before any time restrictions lapse.


I use Glympse all the time now when meeting friends. I have lunch with Bert almost every day, and now that he works farther away from me it’s become harder to coordinate schedules. However, the accuracy of the Glympse is wholly dependent on the AGPS of your device. That means the GPS in your phone, plus the Assisted positioning provided by cellular towers. If you live or work in an area with a lot of tall buildings, obstructed horizon or few cell towers your accuracy may suffer. For most things this isn’t a big deal, but I imagine it would be hard to use the “I’m here!” function at places like inside of a store. Bert says sometimes my distance is reported a block or two off from my actual location.

All in all, I think Glympse is great. Yes, there are similar products out there such as Google’s Latitude or Apple’s Find My Friends, but Glympse is cross-platform, easy to use, and simple to understand. Oh yeah, it’s free.

Strongly recommended.

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