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Posted February 28, 2009

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Big Brother Is Watching?

Google Latitude

big brother is watchingGoogle Latitude is a new feature on Google Maps for mobile as well as a new gadget for your iGoogle page. Latitude lets you track the location of your friends in real time on a Google Map.

Earlier this month, February 4, 2009 to be exact, Google launched Google Latitude.Google Latitude Google Latitude is a new feature on Google Maps for mobile as well as a new gadget for your iGoogle page. Latitude lets you track the location of your friends in real time on a Google Map. And it also lets them track you. Actually, it tracks the location of the cell phone or mobile device like a Blackberry that we all nowadays carry with us. That sounds sort of Orwellian, doesn't it? As in George Orwell's novel 1984 from where we get the term, "Big Brother is watching". But it's not as Orwellian as you might at first suspect. You can't track anyone unless they give you their permission. And no one can track you without your consent except, of course, the FBI, the NSA, the CIA, Homeland Security, your cell phone service provider and probably Google. But hey, the government, various law enforcement agencies and your cell phone company can track the location of your cell phone whether you sign up for Google Latitude or not.

Google Latitude is so new right now (right now being February 28, 2009) that not many people know that it is now possible to use GPS to track the real time whereabouts of their friends and loved ones on their cell phones, mobile devices and home computers. Using GPS to Track Cell PhonesI would be willing to wager money that a year from now millions of people all over the world will be wondering how they ever managed to get along without Google Latitude. Thank about it. Your elderly parents are going on vacation and driving from Charleston, S.C. to Denver. You can track their progress 24/7 every inch of the way until they get there. Or, your independent minded sixteen year-old child stays home from school because he says he's sick. You check from your office computer later that morning on iGoogle and his icon is not at home but at the Staten Island Skateboard Park, hum. Or, you and your spouse fly to Tahoe for the weekend. You boot up the laptop in the hotel room and, "Hey, look. Tom and Jane are right up I-80 in Reno!"

How Google Latitude Works

Once you and your friends have opted in to Latitude, you can see your friends' Google icon displayed on Google Maps. How Google Latitude WorksClicking on their icon allows you to call, email or IM them, and you can even use the directions feature on Google Maps to help you get to their location. Let's say Bob wants to share his location with his girlfriend Michelle. He uses his Latitude widget on his iGoogle page or his browser on his cell phone or mobile to invite her by email to accept his invitation. Almost immediately, Google sends Michelle a text message instructing her to go to Google Latitude in her cell phone or mobile's browser. Then Michelle can accept and share her location back. Or she can accept but not share her location. Or she can ignore or decline Bob's invitation altogether. If Michelle chooses to share her location with Bob, she can decide whether to share her best available location or simply which city she's in. Michelle could also hide her location to keep Bob in the dark from time to time, or she could at any time just remove Bob from her location list altogether. In addition to restricting specific people, Latitude will also let you do a blanket location setting for all your contacts. You can choose to let Latitude detect your location automatically. Or you can set it manually if you want to so that Latitude shows all of your contacts that you are in New York City when you are actually in Dallas. Or you can hide your location from everyone completely.

Click on the video under this text box. This video is from Google and it does a very good job of explaining just how useful Google Latitude is and how easy it is to set up and use.

Google says Latitude works in 27 countries and with many mobile platforms including iGoogle with your computer. The list of compatible phones are:

  • Android-powered devices, such as the T-Mobile G1

  • iPhone and iPod touch devices (coming soon)

  • most color BlackBerry devices

  • most Windows Mobile 5.0+ devices

  • most Symbian S60 devices (Nokia smartphones)

  • many Java-enabled (J2ME) mobile phones, such as Sony Ericsson devices (coming soon)

More About How Google Latitude Works

Of course, Google Latitude is not the only Web App in cyberspace offering GPS cell phone tracking. A Website called Loki offers some of the same features that Latitude does. Or you could take a look at InstaMapper and you'll see that they offer GPS cell phone tracking that is very similar to Google Latitude. There's another another site called iLocalis that's very similar to Google Latitude. So the big news is not that Google engineers dreamed up cell phone GPS tracking out of thin air. It's been around for a while. The big news is that Google decided to add GPS cell phone tracking to their package of popular applications. This will make GPS cell phone tracking as common place as email and instant messageing. Big Brother is watching. But only if you want him to. To get Big Brother starting watching you and your friends go to and sign up.

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