I would like to access "Find My Friends" from the desktop.
Also, is there an API available? I'd like to write code to monitor a person's location over time.
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If you want a bigger screen view, you might want to consider using Find My Friends on iCloud.com (https://www.icloud.com/#fmf)
On macOS, both the existing native options were not resizable (i.e neither the Notification centre widget nor the 'Details' from Messages app) so I ended up using the Find My Friends on iCloud webapp.
For bonus points, use the above URL to create a Fluid App (https://fluidapp.com/), the resulting app feels native. The first time you launch it, you will need to sign in to your icloud account, but from then on, launching the app feels pretty native.
For bonus points, change the icon of the app (from with the 'Find My Friends' fluidapp once created) using the icon : https://is3-ssl.mzstatic.com/image/thumb/Purple124/v4/a8/d2/9b/a8d29b4c-1986-ec00-d14a-28ec2730d745/AppIcon-1x_U007emarketing-0-0-GLES2_U002c0-512MB-sRGB-0-0-0-85-220-0-0-0-9.png/460x0w.jpg
The free version of https://fluidapp.com/ should suffice to do all of the above, but the paid version (USD 5 at the time of this writing) allows you to add the fluid app to the mac menu bar (besides supporting userscripts and allowing full screen mode), which I use quite often. (Am not associated with fluidapp in any way). I am unaware of the implication of an 'always-on' find my friends on the battery life of the device being tracked, but something to bear in mind.
The only caveat is that fluid apps don't seem have a location API, so your location will not be visible on the map (this wasn't an issue for me since without copious amount of spirits, I usually know where I am :) )
If you must have your location visible, then https://github.com/dmarmor/epichrome was quite straightforward. This is a helper app which creates SSBs based on Chrome (whereas the above, fluidapp, is based on Safari). I created the following SSB using epichrome:
Comparison of EpiChrome vs. FluidApp
For the test url (https://www.icloud.com/#fmf), the time-to-usefulness (i.e. the location of a single friend appearing on the map), was identical across 5 tests using wall-clock time (13 seconds for each).
Epichrome's SSB has support for location API (i.e. your location will be visible)
FluidApp's app (paid version) has a very nice 'Pin to Statusbar' feature, which is a deal clincher for me (especially since I did not care about #2 and with this feature #1 becomes moot since the application is 'always-on'). I also find this useful since then 'Find my Friends' does not clutter the task switcher.
As you can probably tell, I chose FluidApp for #3 and am quite happy with it, but this is not to say that EpiChrome is less useful, specially when you need features only present in a full fledged browser (such as #2).
No, the FAQ specifically says that it is only available from the iOS app (see the last question). There is neither a public web API nor SDK on iOS. Such an API would be a major privacy issue.
"Find my Friends" isn't available for OS X before Yosemite.
The Messages app on Yosemite now allows you to view shared locations of family and friends similar to the iOS Find My Friends app.
If everyone uses iOS 8 and Find My Friends, you can also share your locations with each other. Your positions are tacked onto a map.
I can use the "Find My iPhone" app in iCloud to view the location of my laptop and desktop. Isn't "Find My Friends" basically the same thing except you are getting permission to see their devices. I guess if "a friend" gave you their Apple ID and password, you could use "Find My iPhone" app as a work around.
As of OS X 10.11 "El Capitan", Find My Friends is available as a widget in Notification Center, and in Messages by clicking the "Details" button in the top-right hand corner of an active Messages chat.