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Latitude arrived and nobody cared

At the end of last week Google Latitude became available for the iPhone, sort of.

If you don’t know what Google Latitude is, it is the developmental service from Google which will update your physical location and tie it back to your Google account. From there you can imagine you can share your location with others and adversely they can share their location. The end vision being that you will be able to see when you are physically close to your friends at any given moment and even port that information to other applications you may use. The concept is not new and there were already a handful of applications doing this already on the iPhone. However, this is Google, so the world stops to listen.

Google released applications for many other mobile platforms earlier this year, but the anticipated release of the iPhone app is what is needed to propel the service itself forward. I say that it is only “somewhat” released, because Google has released a web application for Google Latitude and not an actual application for the iPhone.  Just as I was about to complain that they didn’t even update the Google iPhone application with the link, it appeared in the list.

I actually went in and looked for latitude when I first heard the rumor, and blew off the fact that I could only find the web version.  Well it turns out that WAS the released version and that my quick encounter was probably accurate enough to depict how this will not take over the world… just yet.

Problem 1 – It doesn’t actually know where I am.  It knows the area, based off cell towers, but fails to dial in that GPS location. After going out on the deck to look for a better signal, it found me within a few miles of the house, but still didn’t find my exact location.  For listing purposes however, it still marks me down in Fairport, when I am actually in Penfield (the adjacent town to the North).

Just in case, I went into the Maps application and the little blue dot indicating my actual location showed up just fine.

Problem 2 – The push isn’t there.  The reason this needs to be an actual application is because after writing quick blog post, I doubt I will remember to go into latitude on a regular basis.  This needs to become an actual application, because what I want out of this, is a notification whenever I get within actual range of somebody and leave it as something I specify.  Left to my own devices, I won’t check in with Latitude.

Supposedly, it will actually keep updating your location if you leave it as the main page in Safari.  Something I have not tested or verified yet. I do however have one friend in there, and it keeps updating, so either he is really proactive, or the service might actually work in a hidden safari window.

Reading through the ARStechnica article and a few others out there, you get the impression that Apple really didn’t want Google to write an app, noting that it may conflict with Maps, already on the phone.  You have to hope that what they really said is “Let’s build this into Maps on the iPhone”, and this web version is only something to appease the masses until that is ready.

So here is my “Dear Google” wrap up.

Dear Google,

Please work on integrating Google Latitude directly into my Maps application on my iPhone, so I can see my friends whenever I am in a map. Please set it up so I can schedule my location updates whenever I want and set it up so I can setup individual warning notifications based off of my distance from other people in my list.  Oh, and thanks for keeping everything free, while still allowing me to bitch about something I paid absolutely nothing to obtain.

Thanks, Stephen

PS – Open a co-location in Rochester, NY, mainly because I want to work at Google, but can’t move to California just yet in my life.

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