Google launched its Latitude app for Apple's iPhone and a interesting window on the Web vs. native decision process was open.
The search giant's Latitude app tracks you anywhere you go (if you want) and it has been a no-show on the iPhone and iPod touch even though the app has hit every other device operating systems.
We worked closely with Apple to bring Latitude to the iPhone in a way Apple thought would be best for iPhone users. After we developed a Latitude application for the iPhone, Apple 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.
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.
Unfortunately, since there is no mechanism for applications to run in the background on iPhone (which applies to browser-based web apps as well), we're not able to provide continuous background location updates in the same way that we can for Latitude users on Android, Blackberry, Symbian and Window Mobile...
This Web vs. native app decision process will emerge repeatedly between Google and Apple. Simply put, the two are on a mobile collision course. Meanwhile, Apple isn't going to want Google to confuse things for its iPhone features. Simply put, Apple limited Google Latitude.
As a consumer, it is becoming increasingly clear that Android may be the only real rival for the iPhone on the operating system and app front. When that collision course becomes more obvious you'll see more Web vs. native app jockeying.