Hey parents. The next time your kid misses their curfew, instead of calling them to ask “Where are you?” you can pick up your mobile phone and actually SEE where they are! Google recently introduced a feature called “Latitude,” which allows people with mobile phones and other wireless devices to automatically share their whereabouts with family and friends. We read about this on MSNBC and USA Today.
The feature works on certain phones, and there’s a PC version, too. Latitude doesn’t work with the iPhone yet, but Google product manager Steve Lee says that’s coming soon. So how does Latitude work? You sign up for the free service and add it to your phone. Then, you agree to sign up for the “friends sharing” feature. Then, when you open the program, Google figures out where you are, and you can invite your friends and family to track your whereabouts. The software pinpoints a user’s current location and where they’ve been by relying on cell phone towers, GPS, or a Wi-fi connection to figure out their location. The system can follow peoples’ travels in the United States and 26 other countries.
So why would a program like this be useful? Here are a couple of reasons: If a child boards an airplane, Mom can find out via Google that they landed. If you’re hanging out downtown on a Saturday night and you’re looking for something to do, you can check your phone to see who else is nearby. However, the feature could raise privacy concerns. After all, do you want your boss to see where you go on weekends? Do you want your ex to be able to monitor your whereabouts after you break up? Google is doing its best to deal with this issue. For example, they require each user to manually turn on the tracking software. Also, people who don’t want to be precise about their whereabouts can choose to display just the CITY they’re in – instead of an exact location, and it’s left up to each user to decide WHO can monitor their location.