Google Latitude Gets Personal on Google Talk, Gmail Chat

Google has ported its Latitude application to Google Talk and Gmail Chat, allowing users to post their real-time location onto those Google sites. In addition, another application publishes the user's Latitude location to their blog or Web site. Geo-location solutions are a growing part of the IT industry, with both Google and Yahoo releasing applications for geographical pinpointing.

Google announced on May 4 two new applications for its Google Latitude service, which allows users to both post their own real-time location on a map while also seeing the position of any other friends who use the service. The new programs expand the service's functionality by posting the user's location to either a personal blog or Website, or else Google Talk and Gmail Chat.

Having originally made its debut on Feb. 4, Google Latitude is now available on Android-powered devices with Maps v3.0 and above, most BlackBerry devices, most devices with Windows Mobile 5.0 and above, and most Symbian S60 devices. Functionality for the iPhone and iPod touch is apparently "coming soon," according to Google's Website.

The two new applications are Google Talk location status (beta), which updates the user's Google Talk or Gmail chat status message with his or her Latitude location, and Google Public Location Badge, which publishes the user's Latitude location on his or her blog or personal Website.

"You can choose to show just the city that you are in, or you can have your device's location detected automatically, using GPS, Wi-Fi or cell tower ID, which provides a more specific location," Rohan Seth and Chris Lambert, software engineers for Google Mobile, wrote in a May 4 corporate blog posting.

Google rival Yahoo already attempted to counter Latitude with a Facebook application, called Friends on Fire, that uses the Fire Eagle geo-location platform to let users display their real-time location on a map. Yahoo launched Fire Eagle in August 2008.

And for anyone who feels that Google expanding Latitude is yet another way in which the search engine giant is slowly invading the collective privacy, there is always the option to switch off-or never switch on-the service entirely.