Google Latitude

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Google Latitude
Google Latitude logo
Developer(s) Google
Initial release February 5, 2009 (2009-02-05)
Development status Beta
Operating system Cross-Platform
Available in 38 languages
Type Web application, Mobile application, Social location
License Google Latitude [1]

Google Latitude is a location-aware mobile app developed by Google as a successor to their earlier SMS-based service Dodgeball. Latitude allows a mobile phone user to allow certain people to view their current location. Via their own Google Account, the user's cell phone location is mapped on Google Maps. The user can control the accuracy and details of what each of the other users can see — an exact location can be allowed, or it can be limited to identifying the city only. For privacy, it can also be turned off by the user, or a location can be manually entered. Users have to explicitly opt in to Latitude, and may only see the location of those friends who have decided to share their location with them.[1]




Dodgeball was founded in 2000 by New York University students Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert. The company was acquired by Google in 2005.[2] In April 2007, Crowley and Rainert left Google, with Crowley describing their experience there as "incredibly frustrating".[3] After leaving Google, Crowley created a similar service known as Foursquare with the help of Naveen Selvadurai.[4]

Dodgeball offered a facility to users by way of SMS. Dodgeball was available for the cities of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix, DallasFort Worth, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Madison, MinneapolisSt. Paul and Denver.[5]

In January 2009 Vic Gundotra, Vice President of Engineering at Google, announced that the company would "discontinue in the next couple of months, after which this service will no longer be available."[6] Dodgeball was shut down and succeeded in February 2009 by Google Latitude.[7]


With Google Latitude, the service has expanded to PC browsers (it uses the Geolocation API as well as user-driven input) and automated location detection on mobile phones using Cellular positioning, Wi-Fi Positioning, and GPS.

In November 2009, Google announced a Latitude feature called "Location History" which stores and analyzes a user's location over time, for example attempting to identify a user's home and workplace.[8]

At the end of May 2010, Google announced an API which allows applications to make use of Latitude data, with the user's explicit consent.[9]


Google Latitude is compatible with most devices running iOS, Android, BlackBerry OS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian S60.[10][11] Initially Google stated on the Latitude page that it would be available for Java ME phones[citation needed], but this claim was later removed from the site. On most platforms Latitude can continue to update the user's location in the background when the application is not in use, while on others it only updates the user's location when the application is in use.

The Sony Ericsson W995, C905, C903, C510, Elm and Satio mobile phones support Google Latitude as part of their built-in Google Maps application. Although this is a Java ME application, it cannot be downloaded for use with other mobile phones.

Privacy concerns

Amid concerns over locational privacy,[12] Google announced that Latitude overwrites a user's previous location with the new location data, and does not keep logs of locations provided to the service.[13][14]

As of early 2011, Google Latitude now optionally records a history of places visited and counts time spent at each place. This information is then used to display statistics such as "Time At Work", "Time Spent At Home" and "Time Spent Out".

See also


  1. ^ See where your friends are with Google Latitude, 4 February 2009, Official Google Blog
  2. ^ Polytechnic University paper
  3. ^ Flickr blog
  4. ^ foursquare
  5. ^ Dodgeball website
  6. ^ "Changes for Jaiku and Farewell to Dodgeball and Mashup Editor". Google Code Blog. January 2009. 
  7. ^ Where Are You? Show ‘Em With Google Latitude m The New York Times blog, 4 February 2009.
  8. ^ Google Latitude, now with Location History & Alerts, by Chris Lambert, Google Mobile Blog, November 10, 2009. Retrieved November 25, 2010
  9. ^ With the New Google Latitude API, Build Latitude and Location Into Your App, by Ana Ulin, Google Code Blog, May 19, 2010. Retrieved November 25, 2010
  10. ^ ""Google Support: Supported Phones". Google. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Google Latitude Spurs Privacy Backlash", by Thomas Claburn, InformationWorld, February 5, 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2009/
  13. ^ "Google Latitude to Cops: 'I Don't Remember'", by Ryan Singel, Wired, March 05, 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2009.
  14. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Google Takes a Stand for Location Privacy, Along with Loopt", by Kevin Bankston, EFF, March 4th, 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2009/

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