Google Latitude for iPhone: It's Here as a Web App, Because Apple Says So
Article by George Norman
On 27 Jul 2009
Google Latitude, the service that lets you in on the current location of your friends, has been officially ported to the iPhone, the Mountain View-based company announced a few days ago. While the fact that Google Latitude for iPhone and iPod Touch having been officially launched is certainly good news for all the iPhone/iPod Touch users out there that have been missing out, there is a slight issue: Google Latitude does not come as a full-fledged app, it is a web app.

The thing is that a native application is far better than a web app in terms of speed and power, for example. Even though Google did once say that in the future people will prefer web apps over native mobile apps, the simple truth of the matter remains that for the time being native apps are just better than web apps. In the case of Google Latitude, this means that instead of getting a native Google Latitude app, you get an iPhone/iPod Touch app that launches the smartphone’s web browser. And all because Apple said this is better for the user.

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Product Manager with the Google Mobile Team, Mat Balez, comments: “We worked closely with Apple to bring Latitude to the iPhone in a way Apple thought would be best for iPhone users. After we developed a Latitude application for the iPhone, Apple requested we release Latitude as a web application in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone, which uses Google to serve maps tiles. Google, like Apple, continues to push for improvements in web browser functionality. Now that iPhone 3.0 allows Safari to access location, building the Latitude web app was a natural next step. In the future, we will continue to work closely with Apple to deliver useful applications.”

So what does this mean? Why should you be bothered by the fact that Google Latitude for iPhone is a web app and not a native app? The answer is quite simple: unlike Google Latitude for Android, Blackberry, Symbian and Windows Mobile, Google Latitude for iPhone cannot provide continuous background location updates. Instead of getting push notifications related to your friends’ movements, you have to leave the browser and the web app running in the foreground. Mat Balez again: “Your location is updated every time you fire up the app and then continuously updated while the app is running in the foreground.”

To get started with Google Latitude for iPhone, you need only visit google.com/latitude from your iPhone’s browser.



Tags: Google, Google Latitude, Apple, iPhone, iPod Touch
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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