Global positioning satellite (GPS) gadgets were originally developed to help find out your own location. But now, mobile app developers have found another handy use for location-based technology: finding the location of others. Cellular phone service providers have long offered a “family finder” service along with their cell phone contracts that let you track the location of your family members, or other people on your cell phone plan. This paid service is particularly handy for parents concerned about the whereabouts of their children.
Google has released a mobile app called Latitude that also lets you track the location of friends and family members. Aside from being free, Google’s Latitude app for iPhone, Android and other smartphone platforms adds a social layer to GPS location technology. With Google Latitude, you can track the location of any user who chooses to report their location, regardless of whether or not they share a cell phone plan with you. Read on to learn more about Google Latitude.
How Do I Use Google Latitude?
Google Latitude can be accessed through a standalone app, which you can download through the App Store or Android Market, or via your mobile web browser by visiting google.com/latitude. You must have a Google Account and location services enabled on your phone.
Who can I see my location?
You choose who has access to your location. By default, only your friends can see your location via Google Latitude. You must first accept their request to share your location and then allow them to see your location as well. You can also opt to temporarily or permanently hide your location from all friends. You can also specify which friends can see your location.
How does Google Latitude know where I am?
Google Latitude uses the same location technology that your Maps apps and other location-aware apps on your phone use. It is usually a combination of GPS technology and aGPS technology. Google Latitude determines your location based on which cell phone towers you are connected for your data connection. It also works if you are connected via WiFi.
How often does Google Latitude report my location?
By default, Google Latitude will only check for your location when you have the app open and active. However, you can choose to allow Google Latitude to run in the background and report your location, even if the app isn’t currently pulled up on your screen. Enable or disable background updating from the Settings screen in the Latitude app. Note that having background updating activated may drain your battery faster.
How accurate is Google Latitude?
It depends. Typically, the more cell phone towers that are in contact with your phone, the more accurate Google Latitude is. Your location will be reported with a blue circle around it. This shows your approximate location. The blue circle grows or shrinks depending on how accurate of a fix Google Latitude has on you. This can range from a margin of error of a few feet to a margin of error of a few miles.
What if I no longer want to share my location via Google Latitude?
If at any time you would no longer like to share your location via Google Latitude, simply uninstall the app from your phone.