Being able to track someone’s exact location has been a staple of science fiction since before Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel 1984. On Wednesday February 4th fiction turned into reality when Google released its latest application: Google Latitude.
Google Latitude is an application for your mobile phone and PC that tracks your location and sends it to your friends. Sharing your location seems unsafe but Google ensures privacy requiring users to specifically sign up for the service. Users can share their precise location the city they’re in or hide their location completely.
Latitude works with a variety of mobile devices such as blackberries, phones with windows mobile 5.0 and the T-mobile G-1. (for the complete list visit http://www.google.com/latitude/intro.html). The service will soon be available for the popular iPhone and iPod Touch.
Another unique feature of Latitude is that it allows users to keep in touch with their friends through their computer. Via computer, users can manually set their location or keep it constantly updated through a wi-fi connection.
While keeping track of your friends, Latitude also provides instant access to contact them or alert them to your location. Latitude allows you to share statues updates.
Latitude can also be used outside the United States. According to Google, Latitude works in 27 countries as its launch. A number expected to grow as time goes on.
Latitude works through Google Maps, a mobile a service allowing users to find directions, while also acting as a GPS. Latitude uses GPS satellite signals, wi-fi, as well as 2G,3G, and 4G network signals to determine your location.
Latitude’s ability to determine and share your exact location has created a mixture of opinions varying from positive to paranoid.
Andrew Fritzer, a sophomore at Marist College, sees the negative side in the new technology. “I would not use Google Latitude because I would not care for the idea of being watched on a regular basis.”
While other’s such as sophomore Andrew Clinkman sees value in the new technology, “This allows parents to keep a safe eye on their children at least up to a certain age”.
Nina Foley, 85 from New Jersey who has been a parent for 58 years sees the positives and negatives of Latitude. Ms. Foley admits it would have been useful in keeping track of her children but is also wary about the product. “I don’t like the idea, I feel as if it is an invasion of privacy despite the protections Google put in place”.
Google Latitude breaks down the barrier between public and private life bringing about the question whether the future will be the dystopian society envisioned in Orwell’s 1984 or the social paradise that Google imagines.