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Google Latitude on iPhone

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Murphy’s been wondering how Google would implement Latitude on the iPhone – since we all know background apps aren’t allowed.  I was sort of expecting Latitude to be part of the native Google Maps application that ships with iPhone and iPod touch.   Apple allows certain apps to run in the background, like their own Mail app.  Maybe a built-in app could get special treatment.

But that’s not what’s happening.  The app is running in Safari.  HTML 5 on iPhone 3.0 allows Safari to access location information and publish it via Latitude.  The downside:  You have to open the page in Safari to share your location.   Switch to a different page, close Safari, let your phone lock – any of those result in Latitude not sharing location information anymore.

From Google:

“Because the iPhone and iPod touch don’t allow Safari windows or apps to run in the background or while your device is locked, your location will only be updated when Latitude is in the open, active Safari window.”

and

“Your location will continue to be detected and updated while Latitude is the open, active Safari window and will stop being updated if you switch browser windows, leave Safari, or allow your device screen to lock.”

Not the most useful implementation, not what I was hoping for. Sharing your location is a manual process.

The screenshot above is from this afternoon:  Mrs. Murphy’s Blackberry reporting her location on a taxiway at Chicago O’Hare.  I’m not a big fan of her particular Blackberry, but it does a decent job with Latitude.

Before this update to Latitude I could open iGoogle on the iPhone and see where Mrs. Murphy was.  Roughly.  The GPS on her Blackberry takes FOREVER to kick in.  So here’s a plus:  Now there’s a more convenient place to see Latitude on your iPhone.  Without going into iGoogle.  You can manage your privacy settings, add friends, etc.  And there’s a nice overlay menu with other functions like traffic, directions, and search.

Still, it doesn’t make sense to Murphy as to why it wasn’t implemented as part of Maps.  Maybe in a firmware update?  iPhone 3.1 must be well underway at this point.   TechCrunch reported that Apple leaned on Google and had them go the web app route.   Maybe Apple was worried about battery usage for a native app.  Maybe a constantly updating app using the GPS would be a much larger drain than something like Pandora.  Who knows?

My solution: I pushed the Safari icon back to my last page of apps and added Latitude to my Dock. That will at least update my location now and then without me giving it much thought.

Not sure what all the fuss is about Latitude and privacy.  Don’t like Latitude? Don’t use it.

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2 comments to “Google Latitude on iPhone”

  1. Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post!

    It’s the little changes that make the largest changes.
    Many thanks for sharing!

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