Apple has updated its free Find My Friends iOS app to version 2.1, providing “a new UI to search for and set location-based notifications.” Location-based notifications, which alert you when a friend enters or leaves a particular location, aren’t new, but now you can specify the radius around a location, making the feature more forgiving when locations don’t match addresses perfectly and providing advance warning of arrivals. (Of course, for this to work at all, you must have been given permission to track your friends’ locations, either permanently or on a temporary basis — see “I Get by (and a Lift) with a Little Help from Find My Friends,” 1 February 2012.)
To set a notification location, tap one of your friends in the Find My Friends list, and tap the Notify Me button. You can then specify a location: your friend’s current location, a different position on the map, or a location found by searching in the field at the top. (To change the map position, drag the pin indicating your friend’s current location to the desired spot, remembering that you can pinch to change the zoom level of the map.)
Once you’ve selected a location, note the purple circle that appears around the pin that marks the spot. New in Find My Friends 2.1 is a purple button that you can drag to change the radius of the notification area, with the size of the radius shown. (We presume the units match your country’s preferred measurement units. Unfortunately, it’s not smart enough to switch from feet to miles as the circle grows beyond the point where feet make sense.) After you click the Done button, you’ll be notified when your friend next enters or leaves that circle.
Being able to customize the geofence radius like this lets you draw a wide circle around your home to notify you, for instance, when a friend will arrive soon. Or, you could draw a wide circle around an airport at which you’ve just arrived so you could be notified enough in advance to look for a friend who’s picking you up curbside.