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Review & Poll: Google Latitude for the iPhone

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I recently made the switch from PC to Mac. That’s right – I finally succumbed and bought the new MacBook Pro. I’m finding it great and easy to use, but it’s different from PC. Not better, just different in a way that things are only as organized as you make it. But what I’ve always liked about PC was it’s easy compatibility with Google. I am a huge fan of Google, but I couldn’t believe they didn’t have Google Latitude for the iPhone.

Until recently. I thought it was a great way to utilize the built in GPS system and extend it to your friends. I’ve seen the ads for it and I saw it on every other mobile device. As such, I bookmarked it to my homescreen as soon as I found it.

After using it briefly, I already have some initial comments on it. Apple says that they requested Google to build Latitude as an in-browser so as not to confuse users with the already existing Maps application which syncs off maps.google.com. This is able to work because Safari, with the 3.0 OS update, is able to detect My Location. But as I’m sure many of you are already aware of, putting it in a web browser for the iPhone almost completely negates its purpose in the first place.

The purpose I am talking about of course, is being able to see where your selected contacts are whenever. But this would only work well if this information was updated automatically in the background, as it is possible to do with a stand alone application. But as it is a in-browser application, location information is only available so long as both users have opened up their Safari browser.

Well, at that point, I might as well just give my contact a call or a text message and just ask where they are.

When I look at the technology that is available to us, I am a little let down with this particular application for the iPhone. There is so much potential with 3G data and the built in GPS module. I am a user myself of Maps for directions all the time (by the way, directions by Public Transportation) is genius!, although this information isn’t made available in all cities). And it seems this is only limited to the iPhone and not on other devices. I’m not the only one who thinks so as well, apparently.

Google and Apple both say that future changes and updates are coming, and I am hoping with their good rep, that user friendliness will be addressed. What are some of your responses to this newly released application for the iPhone.

[iPhoneinCanada] via [Tech Crunch]

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  • It is my understanding that if Latitude is the “active” Safari window, then it will update your status as you move around in the background even if you are using another application. That was my understanding while reading through the multitude of posts about this launch, but I might be mislead somehow.

  • _Shorty

    The problem is it doesn't poll GPS properly. It makes a quick poll of 'location services' and accepts the very first data it receives as being the data it should report. It doesn't matter that the very first data it receives from location services is the highly inaccurate cell tower location data. Try this: turn auto-locking off so that your screen and Safari will stay open as long as you want it to. Open Safari and load up Latitude. Go for a walk for 10 minutes, and watch your screen. I'll be very surprised if it a) locates you accurately, and b) ever updates your position at all, since it'll be using the same inaccurate cell tower location data over and over every time it refreshes. The only way I've been able to get Latitude to locate me correctly is to load it up in Safari, exit Safari, load up Maps, wait until Maps has a very good GPS lock (which we all know takes a good number of seconds to happen, maybe ~10-15), exit Maps and go back into Safari immediately. This way there is still some good info left in location services for Latitude to poll, and you'll get located properly. Problem is, if you leave Latitude open too long when you do this, it'll refresh and poll location services again, and you're once again stuck with the highly inaccurate cell tower position data. It should be polling location services continually when it is being used, so that it will get ever-more accurate data the longer you keep it open. But it does not. In its current state it is pretty much useless.

  • Laserheart

    Without notification functionality (ie. notifying your iphone of a persons update), or behind the scenes tracking of a person, this app is pretty much useless… who's going to leave this app running all of the time on the phone?

    HeyWay is much more practical and useful because you can request and be notified of people's movements if they want you to track where they are.

  • Full_Moto_Jacket

    If I want anyone to know where I am, I'll call/text them. Same for if I want to know where one of my friends is. Latitude reeks of Big Brother, and I'll have none of it.

  • BlueBrain

    I don't think it's completely Apple or Google's fault it's a webapp.. apparently this is a workaround…

    http://www.engadget.com/2009/07/28/google-voice

    Read that article for an explanation of a similar problem…

  • Sharon

    we are currently using HewWAY and it works great. You dont have to be running the app all the time. just send a location request and the other person gets a text message on their screen to send location. Easy & quite accurate. Latitude seems to need the program running at all times and this is just stupid…….get a life and leave your friends alone! hehe

  • That is actually what we have been using as well lately. It really is as accurate as google maps and frankly remembers all the previous “locations” of your friends as well. Works with iPhone and with iTouch as well. I think they have some room to fix it up a bit, but it already has push notifications.

  • Sharon

    we are currently using HewWAY and it works great. You dont have to be running the app all the time. just send a location request and the other person gets a text message on their screen to send location. Easy & quite accurate. Latitude seems to need the program running at all times and this is just stupid…….get a life and leave your friends alone! hehe

  • That is actually what we have been using as well lately. It really is as accurate as google maps and frankly remembers all the previous “locations” of your friends as well. Works with iPhone and with iTouch as well. I think they have some room to fix it up a bit, but it already has push notifications.

  • Sharon

    we are currently using HewWAY and it works great. You dont have to be running the app all the time. just send a location request and the other person gets a text message on their screen to send location. Easy & quite accurate. Latitude seems to need the program running at all times and this is just stupid…….get a life and leave your friends alone! hehe

  • That is actually what we have been using as well lately. It really is as accurate as google maps and frankly remembers all the previous “locations” of your friends as well. Works with iPhone and with iTouch as well. I think they have some room to fix it up a bit, but it already has push notifications.

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