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Latitude

DSCF3058This weekend i travelled to Edinburgh by train to visit very dear cousins. The return journey in first class with free wifi on the train, 400 miles of distance and 6 hours of single malt hangover gave me the opportunity to investigate Google Latitude.

I’d already tweeted the news when Google Latitude became available, and as such my Blackberry 8820 was already through the thirty second sign up process on my mobile to use Latitude.

This first image gives you a UK overview of the route the train took from Edinburgh to London. If you know either me or, more likely your Geography, you’ll realise i’m the chap in the avatar at the top right of the map. The other 3 avatars represent 3 friends of mine who have given their consent to Google to share their locations with, specifically me, among others.

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My flickr gallery shows you a series of screenshots which detail my journey. Each precise location that my phone passes through is transmitted to Google servers using the Latitude application. Latitude has various different levels of accuracy, based on handset and signal strength. The Blackberry 8820 handset i have has built in GPS which assists in sending extrememly precise location data to Google for me.

Phone usability

On the handset the latitude application is fantastic – i can see my location on the map in real time as we make our way through the British countryside – this section shows the last leg of the journey.

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I can also invite friends to share their location with me, and once added, choose from a list of friends to locate.

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Desktop usability

You can fit so many less features on a tiny handheld device than a website, right? Wrong. Google have done a rotten job for the desktop latitude experience. There’s very little to do except how to sign up – which you cannot do except through your handset – you cannot even invite or manage your friends.

3rd party apps

It’s clear that for now Google have invested in making it work on the go, and to be fair I’m very impressed with the handheld implmentation. I’d be keen to see what applications are being designed to make use Latitude.

I’d be interested in an app that would let me choose from only the most nearby of friends to invite to grab a sandwich with me during the 35-ish minutes i might have spare for lunch most weekdays. Perhaps it would allow me select from a list within a strict 6 min walk and then add them all as recipients to a new text message for me to write to them all. “Chaps, Pret in 10 mins? LMK”.

Next week I’m heading to The Lebanon so we’ll see if it works from there. For now, I’m arriving at King’s Cross (London for you international types) now, and, usefully, I can see that my good friend Pete Sigrist is neaby in Holborn – let’s see if Latitude can get me there and if it can i’ll reward it with a pint of hair o’ the dog!

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  1. October 13, 2009 at 15:48

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