Mapfia launched its location-based calling app to a swell of fanfare back in June, though initially the apps were restricted to North American smartphone users. Today, however, it rolls out in the UK, India, Brazil, China, Japan and Taiwan, taking its total region count to eight – including the US and Canada.
Just to recap, Mapfia’s app for iPhone and Android devices lets users share their location with contacts via free “map calls”. When you call another Mapfia user, and the call is answered, you can see each other’s real-time location on a map.
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Setting up is simple – you select your location (country) when you first launch the app, and enter your mobile number. You’ll then have to enter a verification code that arrives by text message, then you’re good to go.
The app reels in the contacts from your phone and prompts you to ask them to also jump on board Mapfia – you can skip this option. However, if you do skip it, you’ll not be able to use Mapfia as both caller and recipient must have the app installed for it be functional.
The app doesn’t have a keypad integrated, but it doesn’t really need it – you tap the contact you wish to speak to/locate, and then the call commences. You can then find each other with ease, without shouting out vague landmarks you happen to be close to.
It is actually a very neat app, tapping the powers of GPS to pinpoint your friends – locations are only shared for the duration of the call.
However, an interesting addition in the latest version of the app, released earlier this week, is in-app messaging – you can now instant message with your friend while sharing locations.
There are other similar apps out there – last year, we covered Echoecho which works anywhere in the world. It taps into the contacts in your phone’s address book, meaning all you need to do to discover where someone is, is tap on their entry within the app. This sends a request to your friend who must then give permission to reveal their location on a map, alongside your location. You can also choose a venue nearby to meet at, and it has a built-in instant messaging feature too.
With Echoecho, an invitation can also be sent directly by text, with the Webecho feature allowing people to share their location without downloading the app, which is a key component of this app.
Meanwhile, Mapfia is available to download for free on iOS and Android now, and you can check out the official promo video below.