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.
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?