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The good and bad of Google Latitude on iPhone

We give Google Latitude for iPhone a spin over the weekend. How did it fare as a Web app as opposed to a native application? Read on to find out.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read

Last week Google released a Web app version of Latitude, its geolocation-based social tracking service. At Apple's request, Google made it a Web app instead of a native app that required installation. This isn't an entirely bad thing as I found out after extended use this weekend. There's a lot to like, and some that's not so great. Here's the breakdown:

The good:
• Simple service to use. If you've got it set to automatically refresh your location you just have to fire it up from a bookmark, or home screen shortcut and you're done.
• You can keep it running in a browser tab while you're doing things in other tabs. It's almost like running multiple applications at once!
• Works in both portrait and landscape modes. And what's impressive about landscape mode, is that you can still drag your finger around the map without scrolling the rest of the page.
• Really granular control over who can see where you are and what you're doing. Right down to a per-friend level.
• Turn-by-turn driving directions in your browser.

The bad:
• Safari-only, which means no push notifications, full-screen user interface, or special sounds.
• Missing some of Google Maps' bells and whistles including things like public transportation and walking directions. And no Street View of course.
• Slightly sluggish performance when compared to the Google Maps app. Filling out forms, and response when clicking on a button can be a bit delayed. Might just be our old, chugging iPhone 3G though.

The video:

Watch this: Google Latitude for iPhone