There’s no question that I’m not a fan of the location-based sharing app craze, as I wrote about in a lengthy piece last month. The idea of sharing your location with strangers in the hopes of “serendipity” has always sounded like a parlor trick to me.

Not only is forcing a run-in with someone you might not known strange, apps that are location-aware are major drains on your device’s battery. One startup says that is has solved the problem of the battery drain and also only wants to share your location with friends.

Glassmap, a YCombinator backed company has launched its own real-time location app today for iOS and it picks up where Apple dropped the ball with its Find My Friends app.

Keep your location to yourself

According to Glassmap, the company has built a new relay technology to solve the battery drain issue for grabbing your location. The company says it can maintain your location with a high degree of accuracy without completely killing your phone:

Glassmap ‘relay’ technology, it was not possible to maintain high resolution accuracy without massive battery drain. Typical ‘real-time’ location sharing was capped at a 5% drain / hour. We are an order of magnitude (~0.5%/ hour) more efficient.

The app does what you’d expect, it shares your location with Facebook friends in real-time, and allows you to contact them if you like. The app is currently being used on 10 college campuses, and plans to be on 50 more in the next 3 months. Going after a college crowd makes complete sense since trying to find out where all of your friends are on a huge campus can be difficult. Plus, on a Friday or Saturday night it’s hard to figure out where all of the parties are.

Other than battery drain, the company solves a key privacy issue by letting you block any of your friends that are using the app. While Apple’s Find My Friends requires you to send an invite to people that require them to “opt-in”, this opt-out approach is much cleaner and more efficient.

glassmap friendview Glassmap is a real time location sharing app that says it solves battery drain issues glassmap mapview Glassmap is a real time location sharing app that says it solves battery drain issues

While there’s nothing flashy here, Glassmap founder Geoff Woo tells me that’s the point. While some apps overdo things to be overly viral or relevant, Woo is just fine with Glassmap being the go-to utility location app. The app also offers chat and VOIP calls if you’d like to talk to a friend without leaving Glassmap.

I’ve been using Glassmap for a few days now and haven’t noticed any excessive battery drain, so it’s safe to say that the company nailed that problem. Not a lot of my friends are using it yet, so that test is yet to come. If you’re looking for a utility app that is not only safer but friendlier to your device, then Glassmap might be for you.

Glassmap for iOS