Android

Building a quick location sharing profile in Tasker

Tasker task list for Google Map responseThere area lot of times I want to know where my loved ones are, but do not want to make a phone call, go to voicemail, then get a phone call back five minutes later because they were driving. This was a feature of Google Latitude that I loved – the ability to see where someone was who had agreed to share location data with you. And even with Latitude, you still had to wait for the phone to check in and sometimes that could be hours.

With the death of Latitude and the near uselessness of Google Plus Locations (knowing where they were seven hours ago is not useful information), I decided to whip something up in Tasker that’s on-demand and doesn’t rely on the other person’s phone checking in with Google. And as an added bonus, it only uses battery when it’s activated.

The project is triggered by a text message containing the text “whereu” and sends a Google Map location back along with the speed in miles per hour you’re traveling. The text can be anything you want, or you could run through your contacts to verify you want to report the location to them, but it seemed to me the easiest thing was to just pick a trigger text that people were not going to send me.

Prerequisites

You will probably need Android to be handling the text messaging. Google Voice did not cut it for this project, although I’ll probably work on a mod for that this weekend. A text message has to come in and be recognized by Tasker, which evidently in GV it’s not. If you’re using Google Voice and not going to quit, go and check the box that says “this phone receives text messages” on the webpage administration settings for Google Voice.

Any other 3rd party SMS clients may or may not work.

Tasker Profile

The profile is pretty simple. Set up an Event, Received Text. Type Any, no Sender, and the Content is whatever password you want to trigger this. As mentioned above, I used “whereu” for this. Choose something that’s not going to accidentally be something a person you don’t want knowing where you’re at would text.

Task

I named the task Send Location because I’m not particularly imaginative today.

  1. GPS (on)
  2. Get Location (GPS, 100)
  3. Variable Set %locspdmph to %LOCSPD * 2.23693629 check Do Maths
  4. Send SMS Number: %SMSRF Message: I’m at http://maps.google.com/maps?z=12&t=m&q=loc:%LOC traveling at %locspdmph mph
  5. Flash sent location

If all goes well, when anyone messages you “whereu,” about 10-15 seconds later they’ll get a link to a fully interactive map depending on the browser they’re using:

Google Map response

And depending on how they’re viewing it they can map out a course to you, carry on stalking someone else, or call you and tell you to pick up some eggs.

Ideas for improvements

  • Lock down by contact, so a child can’t share that info with friends.
  • Disable audio notification when driving.
  • Check if you’re home via geofence or WiFi before triggering GPS.
  • Automatic checkin with parents when speed exceeds 70mph.
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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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13 thoughts on “Building a quick location sharing profile in Tasker

  • Avatar of chris9445

    Should have tried Pilc, works well and does everything I was used to with Latitude.

    Reply
    • There are plenty of other things, all require multiple people to have the application – not sure if Pilc does or not although it looks like it.

      This tasker profile only requires your phone capable of SMS and opening a web browser. It also only accesses your GPS/location data when someone texts you and asks for it. It also returns speed so you know if they’re driving.

      Plenty of other apps out there sort of like latitude, but Latitude ruled because it worked even on a navigation “oh, I’m driving though there and Bob is evidently a mile away, let’s go see bob”

      Reply
  • As an Addition you could use the Action box plugin to do a reverse geocoding so as to display the address as a variable too!

    Reply
    • I have added the the task for reverse geocoding tacking but how do I added so it can be seen in the sent text message?

      Reply
  • Avatar of Dave Campbell

    I’ve put your Tasker routine on my Note2. I’ve gotten it to recognize when and incoming SMS with the correct phrase comes in but its unable to return the coordinates because I keep getting the error, “Send SMS: unknown null-value sending SMS to %SMSRS.” I’m wondering if that variable name has a type in it. After running it, the variable SMSRS is indeed empty.

    Reply
    • There’s no %SMSRS in the article or pictures. It’s %SMSRF.

      Swear I haven’t edited anything.

      Reply
  • Avatar of Zippo

    Thank you for the good tutorial. But there is a problem. After receiving the message does not turn on the GPS. If you do the same test at Tasker is a link to the location will be sent.

    Reply
    • GPS fine location turns off on mine immediately after it sends. What phone are you using?

      Reply
    • What are you using for an SMS client? Can tasker process SMS data from it?

      Does the script ever actually start?

      Have you set up some flashes/toasts to make sure it’s catching the start of the script?

      Can’t tell you off hand without a Nexus 5 in my hand what could be the cause… I’ve done this and similar on a few devices and not had any issue

      Reply
  • Avatar of Zippo

    I’m using GO SMS PRO client, but it doesn’t work on Hangouts as well. The script is running, so maybe I will check it on another phone. Thanks for Your support!

    Reply

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