Google Launches Latitude To Track Friends On Mobile Maps

imageGoogle (NSDQ: GOOG) plans to release a new service on Wednesday called Latitude that will let people with mobile phones to share their whereabouts with friends, AP reports. Clearly, the company, which dominates the mobile mapping space, saw an opportunity to branch out and create add-on services. Other companies, like Loopt, have been successful in getting early adopters, but privacy has also been a big concern. AP said Google is doing its best to avoid privacy concerns by requiring each user to manually turn on the tracking software and make it easy to turn off or limit access. In addition, Google promises to keep limited records on where people have been, and will only store the person’s last location on Google’s computers.

With this announcement companies, like Loopt, will have to offer more features in order to lure users because Google has a clear advantage in that many people currently use their mapping services on the phone. For now, Google’s features are pretty simple. Along with a person’s location, the person’s picture will show up on the map. The service uses cell-phone tower triangulation, GPS or Wi-Fi to find their location. It works on RIM’s Blackberrys, Symbian devices and Windows Mobile, and the T-Mobile G1 and iPhone will be supported soon. The service goes live in the U.S. and 26 other countries.

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