google latitude - Google News

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Google Latitude for mobile

Google is at it again. The U.S Internet search company Google Inc. released software today that allows users of mobile phones and other wireless devices to automatically share their whereabouts with family and friends.How cool is that! Starting today you will be able to see your friends on a map on Google maps for mobile and iGoogle.

Users in 27 countries will be able to broadcast their location to others constantly, using Google Latitude. Controls allow users to select who receives the information or to go offline at any time, Google said on its Web site."Fun aside, we recognize the sensitivity of location data, so we've built fine-grained privacy controls right into the application," Google said in a blog post announcing the service."You not only control exactly who gets to see your location, but you also decide the location that they see."Friends' whereabouts can be tracked on a Google map, either from a handset or from a personal computer.

Google's new service is similar to the service offered by privately-held Loopt.Companies including Verizon Wireless, owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc, already offer Loopt's service, which also works on iPhone from Apple Inc.Latitude will work on Research In Motion Ltd's Blackberry and devices running on Symbian S60 devices or Microsoft Corp's Windows Mobile and some T-1 Mobile phones running on Google's Android software.The software will eventually run on Apple's iPhone and iTouch and many Sony Ericsson devices.In 2005, Google acquired, but subsequently shut down, a location-finding service that used text messaging to keep mobile phone users aware of their friends' proximity.

This new feature will definitely draw scrutiny to the privacy implications of "location-software" mobile services. This will also spring Google into the increasingly crowded mobile social-networking business, opening another front in its rivalry with mobile carriers.