Google Latitude WebApp comes to iPhone. Share Location with Friends on the Move

No you can share your location on the move with your friends.  iPhone users surfing to m.google.com/latitude can access Google Latitude. Latitude draws friends’ pictures on a Google map when they opt to share their location with you.

Google released Latitude earlier this year as a location-basedLatitude on iPhone service (LBS) that competes with Brightkite and Loopt. After bringing Latitude to Android phones last month, it is now available as an iPhone web app — because Apple didn’t want it as a native app.

The main interface presents a list of contacts. Clicking on your own icon lets you set your status and edit your privacy settings.

Clicking a contact’s icon presents the option to send an e-mail, get directions to the contact’s location, and change the precision of location information you’d like to share with the person. The options are “best available location,” “only city-level location,” and “hide from this friend.”

Like similar LBS’s, Latitude allows you to add friends, view their location on a map, and send messages to schedule lunch or a meeting. You get complete control over privacy settings such as who can see your location and how exactly it is plotted on their map. Latitude for iPhone also allows you to view traffic, search for businesses, and, of course, effortlessly update your own location.

The three privacy options let you set the application to detect your location automatically, to require you to set it manually, and to hide your location altogether.

The Web app integrates with the Gmail contacts list, letting you select contacts you’d like to invite from the list; those who already are Google Latitude users get a special icon to let you know they’re signed up already. You also can invite people by their e-mail addresses without using Gmail contacts.

Interestingly, Google Mobile Product Manager Mat Balez notes on Google’s Official Mobile Blog that “We worked closely with Apple to bring Latitude to the iPhone in a way Apple thought would be best for iPhone users.” Whereby “worked closely with Apple,” Balez means that Google originally developed Latitude for iPhone as a native app, and Apple shot it down. “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.”

Thanks to Safari’s newfound access to the iPhone’s GPS hardware in OS 3.0, Latitude works pretty well as a web app in our quick testing. But Apple’s request of Google to rewrite Latitude as a web app must have been no small feat. This probably explains why Latitude arrived for just Android last month, instead of simultaneously for the iPhone, as has been Google’s typical behavior so far.

In addition to tracking friends, the menu supplies options to search or clear the map, view traffic, get directions, and see a satellite view.

Before Google announced Latitude for iPhone, we surmised that the Latitude feature is meant as an upgrade–or at least as an alternative–to maps.google.com for iPhone users. In a statement, Google explained that the company worked closely with Apple to create the Latitude experience that works around Apple’s inability to run apps–even browser-based–in the background. Google gets around this by updating location when you launch the app, and while it runs in the foreground.

Google’s Latitude Web app runs on iPhone operating system 3.0. It is currently available in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and in the UK, and US.

sources: cnet, appleinsider

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