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Google Latitude follows you, wherever you may go!

David Silversmith
David Silversmith

Privacy - it seems like we loss a little bit each day.  You have video cameras following you throughout your day in stores, in the streets and in public buildings.  You have more people with cameras than I ever thought possible - digital cameras, cell phones with cameras the new Nintendo DSi has not one but two cameras!  But in case you had too much privacy left, you can remove that last shred of privacy and install Google Latitude on your phone to let everybody know where you are at all times.

Google Latitude is a free application that brings location tracking to a cell phone even if the phone is lacking a Global Positioning System (GPS).  If you carry a cell phone that has Google Latitude installed, your family members and friends can track your exact location on Google Maps through any Internet connected computer.  You have to install the software on your cell phone with support currently limited to Android, most BlackBerry, most Windows Mobile 5.0+ and most Symbian S60 phones.  Though, in my case, it is important to note that Google Latitude only reports where your phone is.  So on those days when you leave the phone at home - obviously the data is a bit less accurate. 
Using Google Latitude you can limit who gets to see your location.  In most cases, you should only allow close friends and family to be part of your Google Latitude network. However, Google just rolled out a product that takes this approach to the max. The Google Public Location Badge allows you to put a Google Map on your blog (or any website) that allows you to show the world where you are at any given time.  
As you activate the Public Location Badge, Google is very clear with the note, "If enabled, your location will be publicly available to everyone. You will not be able to limit where and with whom you share your location through the badge."  But Google kind of sends a mixed message by making the setup quite easy (kind of like cigarettes are bad for you and they are conveniently available wherever you shop). Google generates the code for you and you just insert it into your blog or any website. I'm sure within days there will be applications that add this functionality to Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and any popular social media site.
Technology aside, the bigger question is "Why would you need your location to be broadcast to the world on your blog?"  Now, I suppose if you are already tweeting your location 10 times a day - Google Latitude is just automating what you are already tweeting about. So like any new technology - it will fit the lifestyle of some, change the lifestyle for some and be ignored by others - give it a try and see where you fit in!
Now Google Latitude is not always 100% accurate as it relies on the cell phone towers.  During my testing I noticed that I kept showing up two blocks down the street.  Not a big issue except I work from home and I would really like my wife to not think that I was spending my mornings at a neighbor's house.  Thinking about this, I can already picture the news story about somebody who gets caught while in the wrong bed because he or she forgot that their cell phone was reporting their location.


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