Your friends and family can know where you are on the globe, thanks to an easy feature launched by Internet giant Google on Wednesday.
Called Latitude, forming part of its Google Maps that offers geographical directions, the feature linked by satellites or phone networks can plot you on the world map, and let that out to anyone you wish to.
If you want, you can hide yourself from the prying eyes of any Big Brother in cyberspace by using a suitable option under the programme.
The feature gives an indicative location and not an exact one and the error margins are higher in cell tower-based location services.
Through this social networking feature Google aims to push the popularity of mobile Internet and generate traffic for itself while in the long run ,it may look to generate revenues through local search-based advertising.
Using Latitude, you can look for places like a coffee shop, a movie hall, or simply a place where your friend is stranded or waiting for you.
“Search is key to our business. Our company’s vision and mission is to organise the world’s information and make it accessible,” Vinay Goel, country head, products at Google India told Hindustan Times. However, he declined to comment on the company’s revenue ambitions and said that at present the company wants to build a base of mobile Internet users.
Users can download a suitable software application free of cost from www.google.com/latitude.
The application can be installed as a desktop gadget on Internet enabled mobile phones, personal computers and laptops as well. To use the service, one needs to sign in with a Google ID, just as one does for other Google products like Gmail or Gtalk.
Latitude is compatible with popular mobile operating systems such as Symbian (on which Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung devices run), Research In Motion’s BlackBerry and Windows. “We expect it will be coming to the iPhone, through Google Mobile App, very soon,” Vic Gundotra, vice president engineering, Google mobile team wrote on the company’s official blog.
Google uses licensed maps from various map providers and users can also add or edit locations on the map.
This user-generated aspect gives Google the edge to tap local advertisers as well.
Latitude has been introduced across 27 countries and is essentially an upgrade of an existing feature called ‘My Location’ that was introduced in November 2007.
The social mapping approach is similar to a service already offered by Loopt Inc, a three-year-old company located near Google's Mountain View headquarters. Loopt's service is already compatible with more than 100 types of mobile phones. Location based services are expected to grow in India at a rate of 22 per cent and offers a lucrative option for advertisers, content as well as mobile service providers to generate revenue.
However, users cannot chat on latitude.