Google has launched Trusted Contacts, a new personal safety app that lets Android users share their location with a close-knit circle of contacts. The app lets you tag contacts in your phone's address book, who can then see your whereabouts in case of an emergency.

The app works by creating a map of your activity, which is private by default. Those with the Trusted Contact status can view your recent activity on this map to see if you're logged into the app and whether you've moved about recently.

If someone is concerned for your welfare, a trusted contact is able to send a request to see your last known location. If you're safe and well you can deny the request, but if there is no response from you within five minutes the app will automatically share your last known location, which can then be used to help locate you if something is amiss.

Once you accept a request to see your location, contacts can see your whereabouts for 24 hours or until you stop sharing. According to Google this feature works even when your phone is offline, although how it's able to determine whether you're in trouble or just away from your phone – or asleep – is unclear. You can change your trusted contacts at any time.

Google Trusted Contacts
Once your location is shared your trusted contact can view it for 24 hours Google

Trusted Contacts also lets others follow your journey in situations where you feel unsafe, for example if you're walking home alone late at night or are somewhere unfamiliar. After opening the app you can share your location with a contact who is then able to "virtually walk you home". To stop sharing your location you simply tap a button on the screen.

For now Trusted Contacts is only available on Android phones. Google confirmed that an iOS version is in the works and iPhone owners can register their interest to be notified when it is released. Until then, iPhone users can see the whereabouts of friends and family members using the Share My Location feature within iMessage as well as through iOS's Family Sharing settings.