Facebook announced earlier this month that it is offering a new feature called Nearby Friends that tracks friends "nearby or on the go" for last-minute plans and real-world meet-ups.
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The Verge reported that other apps, like Foursquare's Swarm app, are following suit and allowing users to know where their friends are within a certain radius at any given time.
The technology behind it is called ambient proximity, and TechCrunch is calling it "the next phase of location sharing."
The basic distinction between ambient proximity and current location tracking in most apps is that ambient proximity allows users to know not only where their friends are, but how close they are.
Google tried its own version of Nearby Friends called Google Latitude, which the tech giant shut down in July of last year. Latitude developer Joe LePenna said in a Google+ discussion last year that while Latitude was going offline, location tracking was something Google is investigating further. Currently. Google+ has location sharing options similar to basic Facebook settings.