Google’s location-based social-networking application Latitude is now available on the iPhone platform, but not in a native app as one would expect. Rather, as a web app running in Mobile Safari, Latitude offers some of the same functionality you will find in the native Maps app. You can share your location and see icons of your friends […]
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Google Latitude Now Available For iPhone

Google-Latitude-Screenshot

Google’s location-based social-networking application Latitude is now available on the iPhone platform, but not in a native app as one would expect. Rather, as a web app running in Mobile Safari, Latitude offers some of the same functionality you will find in the native Maps app. You can share your location and see icons of your friends who are sharing their location with you.


Unfortunately, as many people still have concerns over sharing their physical location over the Internet, I have been unable to convince any of my friends or family to try Latitude, so my map only displays my lonely icon.

Because Apple still does not allow any third party applications to run in the background, Latitude is significantly less useful on the iPhone platform than it is on a Blackberry, Android, or Windows Mobile device. On my Blackberry Curve, the Google Latitude app is constantly updating my current location as long as the phone has connectivity, so my location is shown in relatively real-time.

To update my location from my iPhone, I have to launch Mobile Safari and navigate to www.google.com/latitude, and then tap to allow Safari to access my location information. Having to manually update my location means having to remember to keep opening Safari and allowing it to re-detect where you are, in order to provide any real value to your friends.

Duplicating features that are also available in the native Maps application, Latitude offers a satellite view, the ability to search the map, and also view traffic status. For being a web app, Latitude is surprisingly responsive and updates fairly quickly over 3G and wifi. However, performance is expectedly subpar on the Edge network.

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On the iPhone platform, Google Latitude is one of those features that’s kind of fun to play with for a few minutes, before being relegated to the less-than-useful category. Until Google and Apple come up with a way to enable automatic and behind-the-scenes location updates, I just don’t see this service taking off and being very useful.

My hope is that Google will eventually add the Latitude functionality into the existing native Maps app, so we don’t have to use two different apps for very similar functionality. Perhaps at that time, with a more tightly-integrated solution, Google Latitude will be more useful.

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