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Google Latitude: Where You At?

You’re hanging out with your co-workers after work when you get a text message from your significant other. “Where you at?” they ask. You respond that you had to work late and you’ll be home in a little while. “That’s interesting,” they say, “Google Latitude says you’re not even at work.”

You may recall seeing commercials about services like this in relation to a certain cellular provider and their Loopt service. Do you want people to know where you’re at? If so, Google Latitude can make it happen. Fans of Brightkite may also find this service interesting.

What Does It Do?

Google Latitude integrates with their Maps service to show people you authorize where you are. It’s currently available on Blackberry, S60, and Windows Mobile, with support for Android coming in the next few days. Just visit google.com/latitude on your smart phone to get started.

Don’t have a supported phone? You can also install the Google Gadget and update your location manually or automatically if you have Google Gears installed.

The Details…

At first, you would think this is a horribly invasive service, but there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Google only saves your last known location. There is no history of your whereabouts
  • You choose who gets to see your location
  • You choose, on an individual basis, which location people get to see (in case you really want to disappear for a while)
  • You can also choose how detailed your location information is

Not only can you see where your friends are, but you have the option to interact with them using SMS, Chat, or a simple phone call. You can also update your status message.

What’s in it for you?

Google Latitude could be a very powerful service if you have an interest in finding your friends or having them find you. It could alert you when someone your know is visiting your city or when someone you’ve been having a hard time meeting with is nearby. You could possibly use it to help a lost friend find their way.

Loopt and Brightkite are already out there, but I think Google has a real chance of getting a leg up on the competition. Latitude is integrated directly with Google Maps, which is pretty much default on most phones and many people do actually trust Google more than other companies.

For more information and to see Google Latitude in action, visit their official blog.

Where you at? Do you think these types of geolocation services are useful, or just an invasion of privacy? What’s your experience with them? Are you going to use this?

10 Comments

Comments

J Phelps says:

Great insight, with valuable information. I enjoyed reading and will be back!

J Phelps says:

Great insight, with valuable information. I enjoyed reading and will be back!

Manny says:

They are trying to kill the game and put playas out of business.

Services like Latitude will prove very useful at conferences like SXSW. I'm a little afraid of it myself though. I had location turned on in my Twidroid (android twitter client) and didn't realize it and it kept updating my location. But at least it wasn't in tweets, it was changing my location in my settings.

There are ways this could be useful, as I said re SXSW but other ways in which it could be damaging. What I do like about Google's offer vs loopt and others is how much control you have over privacy settings.

I just started tinkering with it last night after i got my Google over-the-air update, and I gotta say, I'm not mad at it.

Wow, that looks like a really cool tool. I will try it and let you know what I think. Thanks for the great post.

LOL, you're funny!!! Truth be told I have ZERO game 😉 This would be hot for SxSW and an easy way for us all to find out where the unoffical Black Web 2.0 “crew” is at.

It would be kind of cool for figuring out where your friends are at. How cool would it be to be taking a taxi in NYC, check your phone and see your friends are in a bar just up the street, stop in and join them! Sweet

I think you can cloak your location if you do not want others to see your location, i.e.. if you are studying for an exam or on a date with someone else! Bad!

ybpguide says:

Don't lie. You don't want your game to get broken up. 🙂

Seriously, though, we may want to turn this on for SXSW.

Kamau says:

Now we all can be iSPY! I figure someone would come out with this technology for consumer use rather than tap around it with the many GPS products. They are comfortable enough to just straight say tracking…device.

Pretty sure I won't use it for the simple fact that sometimes I like to get lost…meaning I don't want people to know my whereabouts. 😉 I couldn't get w/ Brightkite for the same reason, though I did try it out. Note: I think you may have scared me w/ the “Where you at?” scenario, LOL!

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