Photo courtesy of Apple

Apple has introduced several new features to iMessage including the Check-In feature, which will allow iPhone users to automatically notify their friends and family that they arrived home safely or send an alert when they fail to arrive altogether.

iMessage Gets a Safety Boost with New Check-In Feature

The Worldwide Developers Conference(WWDC) 2023 is in session and Apple has been announcing new devices, software, upgrades, and features for the Apple ecosystem. One of the utilized apps, iMessage, has also received new capabilities such as voicemail transcription and live stickers.

One of the most captivating of the new features is the check-in feature which will share a user’s location with their beloved in their chats as a safety measure.

While it might seem to do what one does as soon as they arrive home, that is text their friend to say they have made it safely, the check-in feature aids in automating this process, by tracking the user and then notifying the friend when they arrive home.

Additionally, it becomes more important in the event something out of the norm such as failing to arrive at the expected time happens. In this case, the feature will detect this and check in with the user.

In case they do not respond, the function will inform the chosen contacts of the user’s precise location, battery life, cell service status, and the duration of their most recent active iPhone use.

“In addition to making it easier to get help if needed, Check-In is designed around privacy and security, keeping the user in control by letting them choose whom to share their information with, including the destination and time duration that they set,” Apple said.

With so much transparency about a user’s precise location and destination, questions about privacy and how secure this information is are inevitable. Apple however asserts that the information sent with Check In is end-to-end encrypted hence only the user’s family member or friend can read it, “not Apple or anyone else”.

Important to note that this feature only world for iPhone to iPhone users hence in the event a user wants to share location with a group using any other platform, they will have to consider alternative apps that serve the same purpose.

Late to the Party

Phot courtesy of Life360

Despite the way Apple has utilized this feature for security purposes, Check-In has been integrated into social media platforms and apps such as Twitter, Snapchat, Uber, Spotify, Airbnb, Coca-Cola, and JetBlue for 14 years now.

The feature was developed by FourSquare as a way for users to “check-in” as they visit different locations, making it easy to connect with friends, meet locals, and experience cities in a way that had not been possible before.

After collecting information on user location from the check-ins, FourSquare co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai had planned to use it to create specialized suggestions, a database of particular venue locations, and ultimately, Crowley’s biggest vision – a “living, breathing map of the world.”

According to CNBC, as of June last year, more than 125,000 developers worldwide had embedded Check-In in their own software, and over 14 billion human-verified “check-ins” had been gathered.

Moreover, Life360, the family tracking app, has also been implementing this feature since around 2010 where children can share their location with their parents or guardians at the click of a button.

This history shows that Apple is late to the party and is unveiling a feature that has already been serving the market more than a decade later. This is however not unusual for the tech giant as several other times, iOS users have received a feature that was already being used by Android users for a period of time.

One such feature is picture-in-picture which lets users watch a video while using other apps by shrinking the video and allowing it to float anywhere on the screen. iPhone received this feature with the iOS 14 upgrade in 2021 whereas Android users had been using it since 2017.

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