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Google Latitude – Tracking Service and Social Network a la Google

Google officially started a new Location based service today called Google Latitude. It is kind of a location based social network and capable of showing the location of friends and family members. “See where your friends are in real time!” is the phrase Google uses to introduce it.

Users need to download software to their mobile device. From the mobile browser, one has to visit google.com/latitude and follow the instructions.
There is a list of devices that work with the new service, but basically it is the Android powered T-Mobile G1, Blackberry, Windows 5.0 and Symbian S60 devices. IPhone and iPod touch will be coming soon and so will Java-enabled phones.
The network can also be accessed through the Google page. In case you are not on the go you can still follow your friends location updates from the computer after login in to your Google account. It is also possible to share the computers (presumably laptop) location trough the Wi-Fi access point.
The service is said to work in 27 Countries and will be free but most likely involve some cost from your mobile phone provider.

Picking up from the online discussion going on about these kinds of services, there are privacy concerns regarding this type of service/information. An other similar project called Loopt has introduced an “override“ feature that allows users to put in their location manually and basically ”lie“ about the location they are at. A similar option should be in Google Latitude. (from www.ft.com, by Richard Waters in San Francisco, Published: February 4 2009 06:19)

Other companies that offer location bas social networking services are Brightkite, Loopt or Pocket Life by Vodafone. They all seem to be in their beta stage, but are fairly busy as it looks like. The devices they work with vary a lot. So if your device is not supported by one service just try an other one. Particularly Brightkite seems to accept basically any mobile phone.