Google Latitude adds breadcrumb trail

12 Nov 2009

Just like Hansel and Gretel were able to tell where they had been by the trial of breadcrumbs through the forest, it would be nice to be able to keep track of where you have been signing in from on Google Latitude and this being one of the most-requested features from users, Google has now added it to the mix.

This Location History feature is for your own private use and not your friends (or stalkers!). It can be enabled on the Latitude webpage as can Latitude Alerts and Irish users will be happy to know that there is an option for SMS, as well as email notification.

Closer to life streaming

Location History may seem like a small step but it is one more step towards life streaming – the recording of your entire life in digital format. It will no longer be an issue to note what good restaurants you were at when your phone does it for you.

Then again, this digital breadcrumb trail will also make for a good alibi or perhaps evidence in court to tie suspects to the scene of a crime.

Alerts will be triggered when you or your friend have signed into Latitude at a non-regular check-in point or are visiting a usual place (work, etc) but at a non-regular time.

This basically means you won’t get an SMS or email every time your friend arrives at their place of work (boring!) but you will be notified if they happen to be shopping or having coffee in the same locality.

Smarter alerts

“It would get pretty annoying to get a text message every single time you walked in the door at home or pulled into work,” explained Chris Lambert, software engineer, Google Mobile.

“To avoid this, we decided to make Location Alerts smarter by requiring that you also enable Location History. Using your past Location History, Location Alerts can recognise your regular, routine locations and not create alerts when you’re at places like home or work.

“Alerts will only be sent to you and any nearby friends when you’re either at an unusual place or at a routine place at an unusual time. Keep in mind that it may take up to a week to learn your ‘unusual’ locations and start sending alerts.”

Seems familiar? There are more and more location-aware mobile services cropping up at the moment and one tech start-up in this sector that is really taking off is FourSquare, whereby friends are notified every time you check into a new location, but the twist is that there is an added incentive for those checking into lots of interesting places and often: various badges are unlocked and you can become mayor of your favourite café or bar if you are a frequent visitor.

By Marie Boran

Photo: Google Latitude.