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Google Latitude Friend Finder Launched

Wed Feb 4, 2009 - 2:00 PM EST - By Jennifer Chappell


So you've got your WM Treo with you and you want to see where your friends are located so you can get in touch with them. Well, now besides the other location-based friend finders out there, Google too has launched one. WMExperts let us know that Google has just launched Google Latitude, which is part of Google Maps.

Google Latitude lets you:

  • Share locations: Location sharing starts only when both you and a friend agree. Invite friends via email or easily add them from your Gmail contacts.
  • Control privacy: You can share, set, or hide your location - or turn off Google Latitude - from the privacy menu. You can also hide your location or share only a city-level location with certain friends. (If you're concerned about your privacy, check out this Google Latitude video on privacy tips.
  • Share status: Create a status message and upload your photo within Latitude. It also syncs directly with Google Talk. Check your friends' status messages to see what your friends are up to.
  • Contact your friends: Quickly contact your friends with an SMS, IM, or phone call. You can also get directions to lead you to your friends.

I've never tried any of the location-based friend finders, but Google Latitude sure looks pretty good. My friends wouldn't have any trouble locating me as I'm always parked right here at my desk. I should have a computer chair icon for a location dot on my map. This dot would hardly ever move. Seriously. That dot needs to be moving to a walking park or nearby gym though. ;-)

The privacy Google has put into Latitude is nice. There might be specific times when you don't want your friends, or anyone else for that matter, to know your location. Maybe you're trying to do some secret Christmas or birthday shopping. Or maybe you're just tired and want to go for a long drive and be alone to do some thinking. And there's always the scenario of hooking up on the sly, which is terrible, but we all know that it happens a trillion times a day around the globe. *shame shame*

Anyway, your location is not shared automatically. It's only shared if you use Latitude and decide to invite your friends to view your location. Even if you're sharing your location with a specific friend, you can always change your privacy by going to that friend's profile and choosing to "hide" from the friend. You can even "block" friends. You can also share just the "city level" location only with friends if you don't want them to know exactly where in the city you're located.

But the main point is that when you're out and about, you can check where your friends and family are via your smartphone with Latitude. You can let them know where you are and vice versa. This makes it much easier to get together with someone. Plus it makes it fun. If you see some of your friends are in the local shopping mall, go join them. If you see that a friend is near your neck of the woods, contact them and invite them over for dinner. Maybe your teenager is out on the town and you see that he or she is in an area where you wouldn't want them to be hanging out. Contact them and tell them to come home or get out of that specific area on the double.

What if you don't have a mobile phone? No problem, because you can also use Google Latitude with your PC and see your friends on a full-screen map.

As Phil notes in his article, Google Latitude will work with Windows Mobile 5.0 and up, but not all carriers support the location-based service. On Google's mobile help page, I saw only the Palm Treo 750 listed among devices that support automatic location detection via cell-ID, although it says that more devices may also be supported.

I also saw on the mobile help page that the Palm Treo 700 is NOT supported. So I'm sort of guessing that Palm OS devices aren't supported.

Phil says, "Latitude also works with Android phones (though U.S. users have to wait for an update), most BlackBerries and most Symbian S60 devices. Support for the iPhone and iPod Touch is coming soon."

Head over to WMExperts and check out Phil's gallery of Google Latitude running on Windows Mobile. And go here to get Google Latitude and read more about it.

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