updated 02:00 pm EST, Tue February 1, 2011
Google Latitude gets check-ins, Google Maps 5.1
Google Latitude received a major update that saw it hop on the bandwagon mostly created by Foursquare. The feature now has check-ins to help locate friends and allows attaching photos with captions. While there's no points system, frequent check-ins give rewards in the form of becoming a regular, VIP or guru on a location's Google Places page.
Android users will get specific perks from having Latitude run in the background. The app can send a notification when it believes the user is close to a check-in point and can even automatically check into certain locations when the phone detects it's nearby. Position awareness will also automatically check out to avoid the common problem of check-ins losing their relevance.
Privacy is fine-grained and will let users opt into how much detail they share about check-ins.
Android users have access to all the new features today with an update to Google Maps 5.1 in the Market. iPhone users can already see check-ins, but to make them will need an update to the iOS Latitude app (App Store). Google hasn't said how soon the iPhone would get its upgrade.