interesting news this morning.
Google announces a new API for Latitude.
It sort of reads like a cross between FireEagle and Foursquare. Here’s an intro to the API.
It was more or less inevitable that google would do this sooner or later. What’s interesting is that it’s of course an API to the back end only so it doesn’t really change the fundamental nature of what’s wrong with Latitude – namely
Continuously updating location in background – with the usual battery implications and privacy considerations. It’s all well and good to attempt to solve these technically using a bunch of settings for the user. But this is exactly the kind of problem facebook is tripping over right now. (if users don’t use those settings or don’t know how to…it doesn’t help very much)
everybody needs a google account – of course this is not a problem from google’s point of view – but it very much is from the point of view of new user acquisition and growth (especially when you start spreading this functionality to smarter feature phones etc.
This is google’s way of stumbling into the check-in market – although they suggest (somewhat blandly) that developers could choose to build other applications on top of this service.
It will be interesting to see how this gets adopted and how well users learn to use it.
Although Latitude is claiming a bunch of active users – I imagine most of those users (say…90%) have Zero or 1 friend (i.e. they are just people who turned Latitude on and never turned it off).
As I said – unless it’s easy to signup new people any service will run into problems…
Lastly – privacy considerations here are somewhat disingenuous – because the preferences are all on the back-end – not the front end.
In other words – google will always be tracking your location in FULL detail – no matter what your preferences are.
Only the 3rd party companies you give permission to will be allowed a more-granular/less-accurate view of your location.