After switching from iOS to Android and being entrenched in the Google experience, my curiosity leads me in the direction of trying all kinds of new things. After my initial introduction to Google Voice, I was impressed with the service and with some of things that Google gives us for FREE so I was naturally curious about Google Latitude. Latitude is an experiment that allows you to see where your friends are right now, and vice verse using Google Maps.
Before we get started… The idea behind a service like this is pretty neat for both parties; not only does it have its social benefits for you and your friends, but it offers Google a lot of information about your patterns, travels, location and social network. All this data can be used to categorize and classify you. Your table in the database is growing every time you use one of these Google Apps and how Google chooses to use this data in the future is unknown but for now, it is probably going to be used to serve you ads relevant to your location. Keep in mind though “Knowledge is Power”.
The Latitude product has benefits that I can think of right off the bat. It allows you to have Google Navigation guide you to your friend’s location to partake in whatever activities they may be involved in, it can be used to locate your missing or stolen phone provided you still have a charge left on your phone, it can be used to have your sweetheart meet you at a secret location to surprise her with flowers and a picnic basket. The possibilities are endless, but as we all know it can also be used to get you in trouble too.
Latitude’s relationship impact may not be seen at first. A jaded lover may be able to use Latitude to find the location of their significant others mistress’s house. What’s worse, its location service is not exactly precise and can lead to issues when you tell your fiance that you are somewhere and Latitude’s inaccurate geo-location services didn’t update properly and shows you as being in a location that you are not. Sure you have the ability to turn it off or control privacy, but that only leads to “what are you hiding? why did you turn your location off?” This is where the gray line is drawn between functionality and misuse. Latitude has its benefits for you and your friends, but this could potentially be a relationship killer. Bottom line, I would avoid Latitude… for the sake of your relationship.
As of right now, I can tell you that having this kind of homing device on me at all times is not something I am going to willingly partake in. I think the idea behind something like this is cool at first, but that is assuming that people are generally happy, honest, and secure. With that said, Latitude is not a product you will see being used on my Android phone.