Easy geo-location with Google Latitude

I’ve been taking a look at Google Latitude, a new geo-location tool that looks to be an oh-so-easy way to share your location data in real time with friends and colleagues.

I installed it on my Nokia N95 8GB yesterday in a process that was one of the simplest and quickest installations on this smartphone that I can remember. The installer upgraded the copy of Google Maps that was already installed to the latest version 3; from within Maps I chose to use Latitude.

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I’ve yet to get beyond a scratch of the surface of what you can do with this app, which Google says lets you do this:

  • See where your friends are and what they are up to
  • Quickly contact them with SMS, IM, or a phone call
  • Maintain complete control over your privacy

I liked the easy way I could discover people and vice versa – so far, after just a quick few uses yesterday, I’m connected with Bernie Goldbach (who’s posted a terrific video tour of Latitude by some of his students), Nicole Simon and Drew Benvie: three friends in three different countries, locations accurately identified via GPS as the map and satellite views above indicate. I can see where they are in real time and vice versa.

Latitude needs a network connection for synchronizing your device’s position with GPS satellites, and it can use either cellular or wifi if your device has that. One of the other options I like is the choice you have whether or not to leave Latitude knowing your last location when you exit the app.

You’re not limited to your mobile device, either – you can also use this tool from a computer with your iGoogle account.

I’ll have more to say about Google Latitude later over on my tech blog once I’ve used it a bit more and thought more about what it signifies for mobile connectivity and social networks, just two thoughts that have occurred to me (and read Sarah Perez’ RWW article for much more on that theme).

Take a look, too, at what others are saying, especially the concise but good first look by Google Operating System Blog. The Times’ focus on privacy fears is a good representation of much of the reporting in the mainstream media.

Will it work on your phone? Here’s where to find out.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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