Google Latitude will soon Allow you to Track your Friends on the iPhone

BY Jason

Published 5 Feb 2009

You might have heard that Google launched a new feature in Google Maps called Latitude that allows users to share their location with their friends and family.

The feature is available on mobile phones as well as iGoogle gadget on the computer. You will be able to track your friends on your iPhone as Google has announced that the feature will be released very soon to the iPhone, through Google Mobile App.

Google made the following announcement about the new Latitude feature on its mobile blog:

"Latitude is a new feature of Google Maps for mobile, as well as an
iGoogle gadget, that allows you to share your location with your
friends and to see their approximate locations, if they choose to share
them with you. You can use your Google account to sign in and easily
invite friends to Latitude from your existing list of contacts or by
entering their email addresses. Google Talk is integrated with
Latitude, so you and your friends can update your status messages and
profile photos on the go and see what everyone is up to. You can also
call, SMS, IM, or email each other within the app. Check out the video
below to see Latitude in action."

I am not sure about you folks but I have not been a big fan of the location aware feature of the iPhone that is used by increasing number of iPhone apps. I find it a little creepy to share my location in iPhone apps since most of them don't give you any control. But Google has taken important steps in addressing some of those privacy concerns.

They have explained on their blog:

"we recognize the sensitivity of location data, so we've built fine-grained privacy controls right into the application. Everything about Latitude is opt-in. You not only control exactly who gets to see your location, but you also decide the location that they see. For instance, let's say you are in Rome. Instead of having your approximate location detected and shared automatically, you can manually set your location for elsewhere — perhaps a visit to Niagara Falls . Since you may not want to share the same information with everyone, Latitude lets you change the settings on a friend-by-friend basis. So for each person, you can choose to share your best available location or your city-level location, or you can hide. Everything is under your control and, of course, you can sign out of Latitude at any time."

You can watch the demo video of Google Latitude in action below:

Google Latitude is currently available on most mobile platforms such as Android, Blackberry, Symbian S60, and Windows Mobile, and Google is hoping to release Latitude on the iPhone very soon through Google Mobile App.

But Google will have few challenges in releasing Google Latitude to the iPhone. Here are some of the reasons:

For Google Latitude to work it needs to keep running in the background to constantly provide the location of the user, so it will be interesting to see how Google manages to run it in the background which is currently not possible due to limitations of iPhone's SDK (though we have heard rumors that Apple is considering allowing apps to run as user selectable background processes).

And even if it manages to run it in the background (or an iPhone user keeps it running), the concern would be its affect on iPhone's battery life.

We have seen that Google has been quite cheeky and has used unpublished APIs that officially break Apple's iPhone SDK agreement to enhance the user experience of it's Google Mobile app. But they have got away with it so you can't rule out the possibility of them magically addressing both these issues.

I guess time will tell, but this is one location aware iPhone app I will definitely be waiting for. If you want to see how it works, you can check it on your computer: go to from your browser and add the Latitude gadget to your iGoogle homepage.

So what do you think about Google Latitude? Are you willing to share your location with your friends and family? Let us know in the comments below.

[via Google Blog, Google Mobile Blog]