Google added a new feature to its Google Maps software for mobile phones this week. The feature is called Latitude and you will get it if you download the latest Google Maps version.

Before talking about Latitude, let me first say I have tried a ton of third party apps for my blackberry and the only one that has really stuck is Google Maps. It should come standard on every blackberry. It's that good.

At some point last year, Google added "my location" to Google Maps for mobile and that was a game changing move. Having a map on your mobile phone that always knows where you are is fantastic. It makes getting directions a breeze and it also gives you confidence that you are going in the right direction when you are lost.

With Latitude, Google has taken the somewhat obvious next step of connecting all these mobile devices with maps and "my location" on them. Latitude allows you to invite people to see where you are on their phones and allow you to see where you are on their phones.

Once I got the new Google maps software on my phone, I immediately invited my family and my colleagues at work to my Latitude service. I am not sure who else I'll invite but I don't think it will be that many people. This is not like Twitter or Facebook where you get value out of having a large network (at least I don't think so after playing with it for a bit last night).

But for my office to be able to see where I am when I am late for a meeting or to be able to locate my daughter in the Marais in Paris and be able to get walking directions to the cafe she's in is tremendous.

There may be other applications for Latitude that aren't immediately obvious to me and I'd love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments. But for me, this is another killer feature and Google is slowly doing with maps what they've done in search – running the table on the competiton.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Rik Wuts

    DANG – Just tried to put in on my iPhone, but get a ‘coming soon’. Sounds like a very useful feature.

    1. Scobleizer

      I talked with an executive from Google yesterday and he said the iPhone version is coming “soon” and will have even more features.I am accepting everyone on Google Latitude so you can stalk me and see where I am. [email protected]

      1. Rik Wuts

        Cool, I’l be looking forward to that.I’ve just added you.R.

        1. Jamie Lin

          I have a G1 and it’s not working for Androids either! That surprises me because everyone at Google has a G1 for their year-end bonus last year and Google is famous for eating their own dog food. Just have to keep waiting…

          1. yish

            Latitude comes standard with the newest 1.1 Android OS release which should be rolling out currently. Just received my update over the weekend.

          2. Jamie Lin

            Oh yeah funny part is I received the update later that afternoon after I posted the comment! Have been playing with it. I hope they roll it out on iPhone soon cuz most of my friends are on that. Ha!

  2. Geoff

    And the killer bit is that google gets to know who is really important to you!

  3. Chrisitan

    Fred, Nice to talk about Latitude. The service UI is amazing I agree, didn’t see on BB but on Nokia E71. The big point is my concern about privacy and push-location realtime. In my opinion is a bit too much, as you are writing you won’t share with a large network, like Twitter of FB. We have built Mobnotes, a mobile geo social utility, with another aim. You can broadcast your location if you want, when you want but you need to do a specific move. No realtime push, which in my opinion not yet mature and people care about privacy more than we can think.Another point is that outside of US the mobile data charge are still pricely, so it take some “euro” to load google mobile map.

  4. livejamie

    I get a Coming Soon on my G1 as well.

  5. steepdecline

    “other applications for Latitude that aren’t immediately obvious”..You mean like serving geo-location specific ads? or is that too obvious?more a matter of when than if, I’d argueor geo-location analytics? (how many people saw my ad on google billboards?)

    1. Hammer

      Why are people so bitter about ads? Wouldn’t you want geo-locaded advertising? If I’m in a new area and want to get lunch, it’d be nice if a discount coupon appeared on my screen.

  6. American Legal Association

    Divorce layers rejoice!!!

    1. David Semeria


  7. Facebook User

    I personally am very happy to share where I have been, but am extremely reluctant to tell people where I actually am. Maybe it is just me.

    1. rlux

      It’s not just you. I am extremely uncomfortable with that level of visibility.And by and large I am quite comfortable with lifestreaming.

  8. fede

    i thhink that if you match your google history, calendar, gmail and this new appyou have a huge data mining feuture to serve you adds that can say i know you have a time gap of 2 hours and you are interested in buying a shirt there is a sale 2 blocks from here. give this code to get a discount bla bla

    1. fredwilson

      That will be very powerful if they can actually deliver that

  9. anon

    Your gmap location is often off by few hundred yards (at least in Manhattan) so glat is not yet useful today.

    1. pauljacobson

      Is that not because the phone isn’t GPS enabled and is using cell towers to position?

      1. coldbrew

        Right, so called A-GPS (A for assisted), but law enforcement is able to use A-GPS to find people after 911 calls more quickly than I would think a “few hundred yards” resolution would allow for . What gives? I’m not sure what level of data is available to the carriers and to what extent they offer that data to 3rd parties.From working with ISO 18000-7 RTLS (Real-Time Location Systems) for the “enterprise”, some of the companies offer ~3ft. resolution (in 3d spaces) using wifi (Pango Networks, Ekahau, Wherenet, etc.) Best example I have for very high resolution is Ubisense (found at the logical url), but they use UWB (not part of 18000-7) and is only useful within buildings. [Edited for clarity and greater context.]

        1. Shaili

          Another example of the implementation for E911 comes from PolarisWireless which uses wireless location signature. They are constantly trying to improve the time to fix location vs accuracy issues. For indoors & dense urban areas, this works better than GPS.Agree that ultimately, location fix will be a hybrid solution and a function of cost, accuracy & privacy issues. Latitude does a good job of using hybrid location technologies but is a long way from good indoor resolutions.

  10. Deepak Das

    Hi Fred,I think the new Latitude release is great but it still does not work on all devices and carriers and they claim. I have tested this on multiple devices on multiple carriers and am finding some issues with it. However overall when it works it really rocks. It especially works well on a GPS enabled device on a network/carrier that does not block the location API.For example;# 1 On WM device (without GPS) on Verizon and it cannot get or pinpoint my location. It is not able to use cell-tower ID as well. Carrier restrictions still prevail. I wonder if Verizon will ever grow up.#2 If you as a Latitude user (do not setup your location or prefer to hide it), then another user who looks for you gets a location that latitude determines. Latitude seems to scour your address book details on that person’s phone to get any available information to display your location. It may use your zip from address etc..) #3 If it gets location by this, it can display peope in the wrong places. It consistently puts one of my friends in the middle of a swamp (He is nowhere close to that). It may be using tower-id, but still it is way off. #4: Cool features are one thing, but I think a lot of people prefer not to display their exact locations. The granularity of the location offered by Latitude (when it works) is stunning. For ex: It can tell exactly which direction I am facing or moving (this is with GPS though). On tower id info, it can tell your location to the nearest tower with a radius of 3000 meters.In the end, If Google does open up the API and allow other third party application developers to build on this, we will see a whole new array of LBS apps. Then again, Carriers will ultimately determine the success of LBS apps, as they hold the key to the location API’s open on the devices they sell.

  11. pauljacobson

    This service fascinates me and I agree with you, it isn’t the kind of service where you invite everyone (at least not to view your precise location). The possible applications make this a really interesting service. I like the idea of being able to give someone directions based on where they are relative to where they want to be as well as to where you may be. Detailed map data is vital to its success though. Not all countries have that level of detail in their maps unfortunately.

  12. Carlos Alves Jorge

    Hi Fred,I saw you at LeWeb08 and have been following your blog for quite some time but this is my 1st comment!I think this Latitude product is not getting the buzz it deserves. For me it will be one major revenue source mainly by providing geo-ads on a mobile device – what are the good restaurants for me to go with Fred, I’m in Tribeca and he’s in Soho. Gimme something in between.But this is also major product for logistics and commercial departments wanting to track where their cars are at or where their commercial people is.Of course this can become Big Brother so people should really deal with this with careful but the potential is just huge!

  13. Henry Yates

    I felt a bit sorry for Loopt when I saw this news.I can see that having a large network could be useful when you are traveling – hooking up with people at the airport/at a stop over. Potentially more useful than Dopplr/Trippit.

  14. Jean Toomey

    Fred – I agree it’s amazing, but it just feels somewhat ‘creepy’ to me. Hate to sound paranoid, but doesn’t Google have enough data on all of us? (Great blog, BTW.) @Toomz

  15. mporat

    I think there is a huge privacy issue here – can’t see people letting others know where they are at all times. Maybe they should add a feature that when you want to let someone know where you are, you can send them an update via the software that will place you on their map as a snapshot.

  16. BmoreWire

    After spending years hearing about issues with cookies, anonymous targeting of ip addresses, personics, behavioral, intrusive behavioral messaging……and everything else that we think will spook the consumers and raise privacy concerns…….I think I’ve come to one truth. People like to say that they care about privacy, but the truth is they are soooooo much more interested in exploiting every fact, rumor, suspicion, private thought that they have online. Any product that allows users to share more information about themselves and brag about what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and who they’re doing it with online will be a winner.

  17. Nick D

    There is a feature in Latitudes that allows you to place your icon anywhere on the map and more specifically, you can “show” one person where your REALLY are, but show someone else (wife?) that you’re still at the office. Pretty damn cool.Not that I would lie to my wife, oh wait, I’m divorced already……..

  18. James

    How come you are not at the TED conference?

    1. fredwilson

      I’ve never been to Ted. It was invitation only for a long time and they never invited me and now I just don’t have an affinity for that brand

  19. warzabidul

    I like it, had it running for a day now, did mistake me for being in Amsterdam and then London though… now it’s correct again.

  20. markslater

    soon we are gonna need device wing mirrors (like on the old school chopper bicycles from the 80’s) so that we can all avoid each other walking down the street.

  21. Adam Hepton

    Saves on having to post to Twitter when you’re away on business “I’m in London if anyone wants to meet up for dinner” – you can see where people who matter to you are, they can see you, and you can easily arrange meetups, without having to open it up to the greater unwashed unless there’s noone near you 😉

  22. gzino

    The “phone carrier” of the future could be an entity that intelligently and mostly automatically intermediates data flow/communications/digital interaction between me and the rest of the world. The entity doesn’t provide the pipes or end devices – it provides a slice of the semantic web vision with more human controls/inputs/rule sets than pure semantic web, and discrete enough use cases and needs to develop. The entity needs to know and understands my “presence” – of which location is one critical component. Is this a step in that direction? Can Google become this entity? Do they want to?

  23. Dan Hung

    I totally agree that Google is quietly running the table on maps features. In addition to having these really great value added features, their sheer size seems to allow them overcome the competition’s first mover advantages (here’s looking at you

  24. Joe Lazarus

    Latitude is pretty cool, but the service will be a LOT more useful when they add support for longitude. Pretty big oversight for a mapping app, if you ask me.

    1. unclespeedo


  25. DaveGoulden

    Google Maps is THE killer app for me on my Windows Mobile phone. I use the search feature a ton, great way to find nearby businesses or landmarks. I can’t wait to try Latitude. Hope it’s available for my handset.As for the privacy arguments in this discussion, I could see google adding an icognito mode like in Chrome. Although maybe that won’t work, “Honey, why were you incognito last night when you said you were going to a client dinner?”I guess if you’ve got something to hide, don’t use this app.

  26. mikenolan99

    Wow – a nightmare if I go back and live my teen age years… (I’m sure my teens won’t mind!).And, would have been great when I was running a team of direct salespeople…Mike

  27. lawrence coburn

    I can’t find anyone without a damn iphone to be friends with.

  28. vacanti

    Here’s another use for it that I just realized: Next time you lose your phone, Google Latitude can tell you where it is via the web interface. I just wrote about it:

    1. fredwilson

      That’s a great insight!

  29. daryn

    Conceivably, there will be a API for latitude, making it easy to build your own personal “Lo-Jack” network for all your devices.

  30. Mike Williams

    Yes I agree, but it is a iphone after all

    1. Soe Thiha

      Yes, I agree too.

  31. kenberger

    It’s great for caravanning on a road trip and tracking where and what progress each car makes. A group of us drove up to a beach house in far Northern Calif last week, and tried using Loopt. Many folks now use Gmaps as their GPS while driving. So the problem winds up being you have to close Loopt to switch to Gmaps (at which point Loopt stops tracking). Not anymore.Gmaps freakin’ dominates. I don’t think they’re ‘slowly’ doing it, I think they took over vs Mapquest, etc long ago. With the exception of some local services for countries not well-covered by gmaps, and (MS) offers some formidable bird’s eye photos.

    1. fredwilson

      Ok, they are quickly doing it!!

  32. Christian Cadeo

    Awesome service but imagine if they add a couple things:1. Automate the pinging so that every hour it records your location. Make it smart enough that if your location does not deviate drastically from the prior hour then it does not record it. Reduces the dupes.2. Allow an opt-in process where it logs all of your whereabouts and keeps it similar to the web search history. You can then pull up historical info of any period in your life and exactly where you were. 3. Building on top of the historical presence, allow you to match your location with someone else. Imagine you just met someone and Latitude was able to cross-reference this new associate info with your to see if you have been in close proximity anytime prior to your first meeting. 4. Triangulate your Gmail, Search History, Latitude and whatever else goog has about you into a dashboard that infers your life that day and answers where, what, who and when better then any human mind will ever be able to recall.In any case, I think Latitude is a giant step into a world where nothing is ever forgotten.

    1. fredwilson

      Agreed. And I’ll add another feature request. An sms alert when I am within a certain distance of a friend on latitude

      1. deancollins

        well wasn’t that the whole concept behind Dennis Crowley’s Dogeball application?btw apparently he is coding Dodgeball 2 now.At the moment latitude isn’t updating anything in a meaningful way about ‘where’ you also doesn’t have any data extraction api’s (yet).

        1. fredwilson

          Dodgeball was simply too early in my opinion

  33. Ajans

    Thanks but no thanks. I lived through this with Plazes (an earlier version of the same idea), and gave up on it when there got to be one too many socially inappropriate moments.The worst part of any of these services is not when they work right; that is actually quite interesting. The worst part is when they work wrong, and they automatically place you somewhere you aren’t, and some concerned (or nosy) person pings you to ask about it.

  34. Noah David Simon

    a friend of mine… I think his name is Lee Harvey Oswald Jr. wants to know how many of your Alist friends you have invited to this wonderful service.

    1. Noah David Simon

      GPS fun… not serious

    2. fredwilson

      I don’t have any a-list friends thankfully

      1. Noah David Simon

        aw… weren’t you just a little scared?

  35. Shaili

    We have built a geodiary service ( where I have been logging my whereabouts for over 12 months now. Fascinating what patterns emerge when you look at a large corpus of personal data.The service gives you basic “record, semantically organize & publish” mechanism for your geo data: 0. Record using a variety of positioning devices (BB, Windows, Garmin …) with rich annotations1. Create a group of friends (currently supports public or private), select a set of apps (flickr, blogspot e.g) or create GeoRSS feeds. 2. Publish to these entities based on how you tag your location data (post to flickr; send email notification etc.).3. Derive analytics from users data (e.g. fitness metrics, distance travelled, search based on location etc.)We have built this on a SaaS model with a decent API & Widgets library. Now we keeping adding apps to link the geodiary service to.thx,

    1. fredwilson

      Can I try it?

      1. Shaili

        Pls do … at I can mail you a BB georecorder app to try out.Appreciate any feedback, Shaili

  36. bahram

    where can i find more information about google latitude?

  37. calvin

    I’m trying to get latitude but it keeps saying coming soon and I’m getting upset.I have a G1 and so do my friends and family and they have on there phone . I’m not understanding why it won’t let me have it