Monday, November 29, 2010

Ode To Latitude (of the Google kind)

I have a feeling Google Latitude isn't the most prolific location app on the web.  It doesn't get nearly as much press as Foursquare, Places or the like -- and I have a terrible time getting any of my aging Gen-X friends to use it.  I have a feeling that the idea of having Google track your location is just too Big Brother for most folks my age.  Admidtedly, I have similar qualms -- especially if the combination of some terrorist event and a neo-neocon government would persuade Google to relinquish their records elesewhere.

But I really find Lattitude interesting and useful.  For several reasons:

1) It's on my phone, and can be on most any phone
I have a Nokia device, so definitively outside of the North American smart-phone market.  FB Places (and most every other location-sharing service) does not have a Symbian app.  Google maps though works on everything .  So I'm covered with Lattitude.

2) It works in the background - I don't have to interact with it or 'check-in' anywhere
This perhaps is the most important point:  I don't have to do anything - no check-ins or notifications, etc.  Latitude tracks and shows my position without my interaction.  I don't need one more thing to do on my phone.

3) Privacy controls are comprehensive
I can share detailed or city-level positioning.  I can shut it down anytime or hide it from anyone in particular.  I know Buzz had a very bad, heavy-handed start with respect to privacy, but I'm relatively happy with Google now.

4) It's baked into other Google apps
Not another app to download or fool with - it's integrated with maps (along with Buzz) and I already use that on a pretty regular basis.

5) It creates data about my life that could indeed be helpful.
Disconcerting perhaps to some, I  am just amazed at the data that Latitude is able to discern based on my daily positionings. Where is home, work and 'other' - and how frequently I spend time at the others.  Plane flights with to/from airports - its all there.  And as long as I believe that I am the only person with access to this info, I'm OK with that.  Its a fairly accurate portait of my geo-life right now -- which admitedly is not terribly exciting due to the twins that arrived this summer :)

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