Iâ€™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.
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 â€“ so far, after just a quick few uses yesterday, Iâ€™m connected with Bernie Goldbach (whoâ€™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 deviceâ€™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.
Youâ€™re not limited to your mobile device, either â€“ you can also use this tool from a computer with your iGoogle account.
Iâ€™ll have more to say about Google Latitude later over on my tech blog once Iâ€™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 Perezâ€™ 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 Timesâ€™ focus on privacy fears is a good representation of much of the reporting in the mainstream media.
Will it work on your phone? Hereâ€™s where to find out.