Sheep, painted orange, that belong to farmer Pip Simpson, graze on a hillside in Troutbeck in the Lake District
Sheep, painted orange, that belong to farmer Pip Simpson, graze on a hillside in Troutbeck in the Lake District

iPhone 'Find My Friends' app saves man after he gets stuck on a mountain

The app is available for every iOS device – and inspires a mix of terror and joy

David Phelan
Friday 04 August 2017 11:15

There’s an iPhone app that many Apple users have never fired up, but others refer to obsessively. It’s called Find My Friends and it means you can see where your friends are.

If that sounds too Big Brother, don’t worry, your friends must opt in on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. And obviously you have to give your consent before anyone can see where you are. It’s not meant for spying on people.

You can stop sharing your location easily and your friends just see a message saying your location is not available, which all adds to the general atmosphere of mystery you’re trying to convey.

Anyway, it’s useful for all of us, whether that’s working out exactly where in the park you’ll be waiting or so your friends can deduce you’re going to be late. Again.

But it can have more significant repercussions – life-saving, even.

Earlier this week in the Lake District, a climber got into difficulty in thick fog.

He was looking for a famous hillside cave, Priest’s Hole, as featured by the BBC show Secret Britain last year. He lost his footing and plunged 60 feet into a steep gully, injuring his head as he did so.

He had his phone with him and called the emergency services, in this case the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team. But the rescue team were unable to work out exactly where he was, so couldn’t find him.

This was a disaster, right? Well, it might have been if he hadn’t been able to show them exactly where he was using the Find My Friends app. The app uses GPS and so the rescuers could see his exact location and were able to find him.

They nearly didn’t though, because the climber then decided to use another app, Facebook, to tell his friends all about the adventure, which flattened the battery.

However, he was finally winched to safety by a rescue helicopter, transferred to hospital and later released having only suffered bruising. He never did find Priest’s Hole.

The app, by the way, is pretty flexible. You can follow up to 50 friends and participate in up to 10 temporary events.

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