Monday, February 9, 2009

Google Latitude

The latest mobile application that comes from the Google arsenal is called Google Latitude.

And what does it do?

It tells your friends and family where you are and vice versa. Yes, I know, I know, the privacy issues. As of now there have been mixed responses from around the web. But we’ll get to that later.

So what features does Latitude boast of?

The whereabouts can be tracked on a Google map using it’s My Location feature, either from a handset or from a personal computer. Besides the friend’s locations in Latitude you can also get in touch via SMS, Google Talk, Gmail, or by updating your status message.

Google tries to make all the info optional, which means that you get to choose who gets to view you, and if you do choose to let them keep a track over your position, you can also control what you wish to show them. So the next time you ditch your girlfriend for a cricket match, you can prove to her that you were in the hospital taking care of your cousin using this “fake” feature.


I know what you did last summer..

For all those who like the service, there are many many more who just don’t see it’s point. This group obviously feels that their privacy will be in danger. Imagine, if every moment of your existence, someone knew where you were, what you were doing. More over, the information is stored on Google servers. Now imagine if Google decides to mess with people, its not like they don’t have enough information about you already. Now they will know where you are with pinpoint accuracy (if you’re using a GPS enabled phone) or reasonable accuracy if you don’t have GPS.

Google also released a video explaining the privacy features of Latitude and how to use it best.

google privacy latitude

And what about the costs?

“The only cost that the consumer will have to pay is the data packet charges that are levied by the mobile operators. This has no revenue advantage for us since this it is not linked to sponsored advertising, we just want to promote the use of maps on phones,” said Vinay Goel, product chief, Google India.

But then again, it makes one wonder, how could such a service be leveraged in the future?


Loopt which claims to “transform your phone into a social compass” is quite similar to Google Latitude supports upto 100 phones including the Iphone (unlike Google Latitude). There’s also Pelago’s Whrrl which “allows you to discover the world through the eyes of your friends and other people you trust.”

More info

For the list of countries and languages which support Google Latitude, check here and yes, India is one of them. Strangely the Iphone comes in the coming soon category, this will surely bring a frown to the face of many. Why? Well according to Wired Magazine since Latitude is an always-on service (meaning it will be silently operating in the background), it runs afoul of Apple’s iPhone SDK. Google is reportedly working on a version of Latitude for the company’s Google Mobile App for the iPhone.

Google has posted a video showing the various ways to control your privacy and suggesting some tips on how to use Latitude. The video can be found here

To share your location from your desktop computer visit and install the Latitude iGoogle gadget.

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