Latitude is a new feature for Google Maps on your mobile device. It's also an iGoogle gadget on your computer. Once you've opted in to Latitude, you can see the approximate location of your friends and loved ones who have decided to share their location with you. So now you can do things like see if your spouse is stuck in traffic on the way home from work, notice that a buddy is in town for the weekend, or take comfort in knowing that a loved one's flight landed safely, despite bad weather.
And with Latitude, not only can you see your friends' locations on a map, but you can also be in touch directly via SMS, Google Talk, Gmail, or by updating your status message; you can even upload a new profile photo on the fly. It's a fun way to feel close to the people you care about.
Fun aside, we recognize the sensitivity of location data, so we've built fine-grained privacy controls right into the application. Everything about Latitude is opt-in. You not only control exactly who gets to see your location, but you also decide the location that they see. For instance, let's say you are in Rome. Instead of having your approximate location detected and shared automatically, you can manually set your location for elsewhere — perhaps a visit to Niagara Falls . Since you may not want to share the same information with everyone, Latitude lets you change the settings on a friend-by-friend basis. So for each person, you can choose to share your best available location or your city-level location, or you can hide. Everything is under your control and, of course, you can sign out of Latitude at any time
But Wait up Google ... you are not the first to do this. If i remember right , Nokia had launched a similar application (with more features) way back in november 2008.
Nokia Friend View is an exciting location and micro-blogging service that helps you stay in touch with your close friends. It lets you share where you are and how you feel from home, work, or on the go. With Friend View it is easy to meet up at only a moment’s notice.The nokia friend view application allowed the user to interact with friends (i.e post status messages , reply to status updates and even send location co-ordinates ) which the current version of latitude does not.But since this was a beta labs application , the number of users were quite limited (mostly nokia fanboys like me and jaiku users).
All said and done, due to its immensly huge user base and cross platform compatibility , I have no doubts that google latitude will quickly surpass the number of users of Nokia friendview or even other location ssharing websites like brightkite and plazes.
One thing I really wanted in the symbian version of google latitude was integration with gtalk so that i could just click on a friend on the map and start chatting with him/her. I hope google implements such a feature in its next release.
You can download the applications from the following links :
Nokia Friendview : https://friendview.nokia.com
Google Latitude : http://www.google.com/latitude/intro.html