updated 07:30 am EDT, Fri July 24, 2009
Google Latitude for iPhone
Google has launched the iPhone and iPod touch versions of its Latitude app, the newest feature in its mapping service. Latitude was originally released in early February as an update for Google Maps Mobile, and is now available for the iPhone as a web app that runs in Safari. The added GPS function allows users to identify both their location and the whereabouts of their friends, and includes privacy features which enable users to hide their position from people or to enter a preset location and mask their real position.
The iPhone version also brings with it the basic search and directions functionality, and the familiar "my location" blue dot that takes users to their approximate current location on the map.
Because Latitude is a browser-based web app, however, users won't have the continuous background location updates that the Blackberry, Symbian and Windows Mobile versions currently receive. However, the user's location will be updated every time Safari is opened, as well as providing continuous updates as long as the app is running.
Google Latitude requires an iPhone or iPod touch running OS 3.0, and is currently available in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The release of the app has stirred controversy as Apple specifically rejected a native version of the app due to perceived confusion with the regular Google Maps software on the iPhone, which uses Google's resources but is written by Apple itself. Google has regularly had somewhat privileged access to the iPhone and used once-private APIs (application programming interfaces) for the voice-based search feature in the native Google Mobile App.