Google released Latitude on Wednesday, a software that allows users of mobile phones and other wireless devices to automatically share their whereabouts with family and friends.
Latitude is a new feature for Google Maps on users' mobile device. It's also an iGoogle gadget on a computer. Once users have opted in to Latitude, they can see the approximate location of their friends who have decided to share their location with you.
Users can also be in touch directly via SMS, Google Talk, Gmail, or by updating their status message; they can even upload a new profile photo on the fly.
Controls allow users to select who receives the information or to go offline at any time, Google said on its Web site.
"Fun aside, we recognize the sensitivity of location data, so we've built fine-grained privacy controls right into the application. Everything about Latitude is opt-in. You not only control exactly who gets to see your location, but you also decide the location that they see," Google wrote at it official blog.
"For instance, let's say you are in Rome. Instead of having your approximate location detected and shared automatically, you can manually set your location for elsewhere ? perhaps a visit to Niagara Falls . Since you may not want to share the same information with everyone, Latitude lets you change the settings on a friend-by-friend basis. So for each person, you can choose to share your best available location or your city-level location, or you can hide. Everything is under your control and, of course, you can sign out of Latitude at any time."
You can check out this video
to learn more about the privacy features.
Google's new service is similar to the service offered by Loopt.
Companies including Verizon Wireless, owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc, already offer Loopt's service, which also works on iPhone from Apple.
Latitude will work on Research In Motion's Blackberry and devices running on Symbian S60 devices or Microsoft's Windows Mobile and some T-1 Mobile phones running on Google's Android software.
The software will eventually run on Apple's iPhone and iTouch and many Sony Ericsson devices.