Google Latitude for iPhone: Cool or Creepy?

Google Latitude on iPhone

Google’s new location sharing service, Latitude, is now available on iPhone. You can direct your iPhone to Latitude and opt to share your location — with all of your friends, or with select friends only.


I can imagine a few ways Google Latitude could be useful:

  • You’re at a music festival and you’re trying to meet up with your friends. Instead of trying to talk over the music to tell them where to meet up, just share your location with them using Latitude.
  • You’re traveling and you want to give your family members the peace of mind of knowing where you are, so you share your location with them.
  • As Google themselves noted, imagine you’re playing tennis and you want to invite your friends. Simply share your location and include a status message inviting people to join you.
  • Parents can setup Latitude on their children’s phones — Latitude is also available on phones other than iPhone — to keep track of where they are at certain times.
  • Or, in an extreme situation, let’s say you are kidnapped and the police are able to locate you because of Google Latitude.

Note that strangers can never track you using Latitude without your permission. Anyone who wants to track you needs to be approved by you first.

Google Latitude Friend Request


Despite the benefits, however, there are a number of scenarios where Latitude could be abused, some of which have prompted privacy groups to speak out against the Google service.

  • Anyone could covertly set up the service on someone’s phone and track their every move. Once Latitude is active, Google does not remind you that the service is turned on.

    Privacy group Privacy International explains how this could happen:

    We have considered the following five scenarios:

    * An employer provides staff with Latitude-enabled phones on which a reciprocal sharing agreement has been enabled, but does not inform staff of this action or that their movements will be tracked.
    * A parent gifts a mobile phone to a child without disclosing that the phone has been Latitude-enabled.
    * A partner, friend or other person gains access to an unattended phone (left on a bar on in the house) and enables Latitude without the other person’s knowledge.
    * A Latitude-enabled phone is given as a gift.
    * A phone left unattended, for example with security personnel or a repair shop, is covertly enabled.

    Once the phone has been enabled, the second party will be able to mask his phone’s presence, thus ensuring that the victim is unaware that her phone is being tracked.

  • You could also set up Latitude on your own phone and forget that you have it turned on, unintentionally allowing your friends to track your location at all times.
  • Law enforcement could subpoena Google to find out where you are at any given moment. But Google says it stores only your most recent location, so your history is not tracked.
  • Although unlikely, a skilled hacker could crack the system and stalk you or learn your patterns so as to break in to your home at the perfect time.

xkcd Latitude comic

Google Latitude Privacy Tips

In the video below, Google shares some Latitude privacy tips for using the service safely and securely.

What do you think? Does Google Latitude and the idea of location-sharing go too far? Or is this something you plan to use? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments.

Google Reader for iPhone [Review]

I thought I’d take a few minutes to sing the praises of an Internet service I use on my iPhone all the time — Google Reader.

What is Google Reader?

Google reader is an RSS feed reader. It’s a free service you can use to view all your blog subscriptions in one place. To sign up, go to

Then you need to add subscriptions. It’s so easy. I’ll guide you through it using my blog as an example.

  1. Log in and click “Add subscription” on the left-hand sidebar. Enter the feed address:
    Google Reader Add Subscription

That’s it. You’re now subscribed and you can read all the articles I’ve ever written, plus all new ones at the moment they’re posted, by clicking “Apple iPhone Review” in your subscriptions list.

Do this with every blog you read and Google Reader becomes addictive.

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Is iPhone 2.0 a Better Match for Google’s Android?

Google Android phone

When Google last year unveiled Android, its open-source mobile phone platform, I published an article titled, Android vs. iPhone: Will the Google Phone Be an iPhone Killer?

At the time, before iPhone 2.0, it looked like Android had a good shot at taking down the iPhone, for several reasons:

  • Android phones were set to be priced around $200, while the iPhone at the time was priced at a minimum of $400 (for the 4GB model).
  • Because Android is open-source, developers can freely create applications for the phones. When I wrote my article last November, Apple had not yet released a software development kit for the iPhone, so any third-party applications on iPhone were unauthorized.
  • Apple signed a contract with AT&T binding the iPhone in the United States to the wireless company for five years, while Google’s Android phones will be built by various manufacturers and supported by many carriers.

Add to that the fact that when I wrote the article, there was still no mention of 3G data speeds or GPS being on the iPhone.

iPhone 2.0: A lot’s changed in half a year

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Android vs. iPhone: Will the Google Phone be an iPhone Killer?

Android Phone

Update: This article was written over three years ago. Since then, Google’s Android Army has gained tremendous marketshare and placed enormous pressure on Apple’s iPhone.

Google last week unveiled Android, an extremely versatile open-source mobile phone platform that will be freely available to all handset makers under what CEO Eric Schmidt calls “one of the most liberal licenses in the world.” Will Android change the mobile landscape as much as iPhone did, and if so, how will iPhone suffer — or benefit — because of it?

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iPhone to Feature More Google Apps?

Glenn Lurie, a leader in the iPhone project at AT&T who is actually using his own iPhone before the device’s debut, said in an interview that “There are other things. You have the widgets, some of the Google applications that are coming, there are just so many things here that the price will not be an issue,” leading many to believe that Google Maps won’t be the only Google widget on the iPhone.

Might this be evidence that Apple is “pulling their classic under-promise and over-deliver move in a bid to capture a larger share of the mobile phone market,” asks ZDNet’s Jason D. O’Grady.

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