Google Latitude arrives for iPhone, wither Loopt?

Google Latitude arrives for iPhone, wither Loopt?

Summary: I've been a fan of the social-location app Loopt since it was announced for the iPhone about a year ago. It provided a fun way to keep friends in the loop during my travels.


I've been a fan of the social-location app Loopt since it was announced for the iPhone about a year ago. It provided a fun way to keep friends in the loop during my travels.

It also had a feature allowing me to "find friends" close to my location using the iPhone's GPS chip but it was limited by the number of users I could recruit -- they had to install the app and sign up for an account.

Have you ever asked someone "Hey, can you install this application so that I can see where you are at all times?"

Google today announced its Latitude Web app for the iPhone. Latitude first arrived on the T-Mobile G1 (running Google's Android OS) on with the R33 firmware back in February.

Similar to Loopt, Latitude allows you to see the location of your friends on a map via a completely opt-in process. Privacy minded users can rest easy knowing that Latitude only shares your co-ordinates with friends that you invite to the service.

After adding friends, which fires off an email invitation, you can chose your privacy settings to control how much information you want to provide and these can be changed on the fly. Choices include:

  • Detect your location - updated automatically
  • Set your location - set manually
  • Hide your location - pretty self-explanatory

Google adds:

You'll also find basic Search and Directions functionality to help you get around the world. And just like our Google Maps for mobile client apps (and more recently on desktop Google Maps), you can press the "blue dot" to be taken to your approximate current location on the map with My Location, thanks to Safari now supporting the W3C Geolocation API.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the announcement was the reasoning for releasing Latitude as a Web app as opposed to a native app. Google states that after working closely with Apple the company "requested we release Latitude as a web application in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone, which uses Google to serve maps tiles."

Confusion? Really? I don't really get this part of the announcement. Perhaps Google wanted to removed the barrier of first having to download an app before being able to invite users? It couldn't be that Apple (or even AT&T) was concerned about the volume of data that Latitude would shove onto the network via everyone's "unlimited" data plan -- you'd easily do that now by turning on the My Location feature in Maps and set your iPhone's auto-lock to "never."

Google, like Apple, continues to push for improvements in web browser functionality. Now that iPhone 3.0 allows Safari to access location, building the Latitude web app was a natural next step. In the future, we will continue to work closely with Apple to deliver useful applications -- some of which will be native apps on the iPhone, such as Earth and YouTube, and some of which will be web apps, like Gmail and Latitude.

Since the installed base of users with Google accounts is quite large -- Gmail alone had over 100 million users as of February 2009 -- the service is bound to be a success. Latitude is currently available in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Do you plan to try Latitude? Or is it a little too intrusive for your taste?

Topics: Smartphones, Google, Hardware, iPhone, Laptops, Mobility

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  • Are you sure about that?

    [i]Latitude first arrived on the T-Mobile G1 (running Google?s Android
    OS) on with the R33 firmware back in February.[/i]

    Latitude was available on Windows Mobile on Feb 5. If Android was first,
    it wasn't first by much. I wonder why it took so long to get it working on
    the iPhone considering it obviously wasn't difficult to get it working on
    Android and Windows Mobile.
  • When will the link on Google mobile actually work?

    I've been trying to access the Latitude app since it appeared this
    morning on the main mobile search page. The link isn't working...
    Not very Google....
  • The service is only a threat to Google...

    OK. So the link is now working. That will probably be the last
    time I use it also. SLOW to load (& I'm on ADSL2). Then it would
    only refresh portions of the map. Not to mention all the annoying
    "windows security" style pop-ups as Safari asks if I'd like everyone
    to know where I am.

    One question - in the article there was a point about it not being a
    native app & something about data plans. Does it really make a
    squat of difference which form the web maps take? Wouldn't the
    GoogleMaps API use the same (or maybe even less) data than
    the Safari version??
  • RE: Google Latitude arrives for iPhone, wither Loopt?

    I'm a user of loopt and when latitude hit, I tried it for the
    iPhone 3GS. Problem is.. where are you loading your status
    updates and is it going off to my facebook and twitter like it
    does on loopt? I don't think that's implemented. So, it's
    loopt still for now.