Google puts Latitude on the iPhone

24 Jul 2009

Last year Google caused something of a stir when it released a piece of mobile software that allowed users to show their friends via Google Maps where they were at any time. Now Google has brought that functionality to the iPhone and iPod touch.

Available for the Safari browser on these devices, users just have to visit from your device to start using Latitude.

Add a bookmark to your home screen to quickly launch Latitude. Just open Latitude in Safari and tap the + icon > Add to Home Screen > Add.

“We worked closely with Apple to bring Latitude to the iPhone in a way Apple thought would be best for iPhone users,” explainedMat Balez, product manager, Google Mobile Team, writing in his blog.

“After we developed a Latitude application for the iPhone, Apple requested we release Latitude as a web application in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone, which uses Google to serve maps tiles.

“Google, like Apple, continues to push for improvements in web browser functionality. Now that iPhone 3.0 allows Safari to access location, building the Latitude web app was a natural next step. In the future, we will continue to work closely with Apple to deliver useful applications — some of which will be native apps on the iPhone, such as Earth and YouTube, and some of which will be web apps, like Gmail and Latitude.”

But there’s one problem: “Unfortunately, since there is no mechanism for applications to run in the background on iPhone (which applies to browser-based web apps as well), we’re not able to provide continuous background location updates in the same way that we can for Latitude users on Android, Blackberry, Symbian and Window Mobile.

“Nevertheless, your location is updated every time you fire up the app and then continuously updated while the app is running in the foreground. And, of course, you can check in on where your friends are, so we think there’s plenty of fun to be had with Latitude,” Balez said.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years