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Google Latitude for iPhone available to some

Some CNET employees have been able to access Google Latitude on the iPhone, ahead of an official announcement.

Jessica Dolcourt Editorial Director, Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt's career with CNET began in 2006, and spans reviews, reporting, analysis and commentary for desktop software; mobile software, including the very first Android and iPhone apps and operating systems; and mobile hardware, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of practical advice on expansive topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Expertise Team leadership, audience engagement, iPhone, Android, iOS, tips and FAQs.
Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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  • I've been covering the technology industry for 24 years and was a science writer for five years before that. I've got deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and other dee
Jessica Dolcourt
Stephen Shankland
2 min read

Article updated at 4:35 p.m. PT with more information from Google's official announcement.

Latitude on iPhone
CNET/Screenshot by Stephen Shankland

Starting Thursday, iPhone users surfing to m.google.com/latitude can access Google Latitude, Google's friend-tracking feature. Latitude plots friends' pictures on a Google map when they opt to share their location with you.

Earlier this morning, some CNET employees were able to start experimenting with Google's Web-based Latitude for iPhone ahead of the official announcement.

Once loaded, Latitude becomes a tab on m.google.com, Google's mobile face.

The main interface presents a list of contacts. Clicking on your own icon lets you set your status and edit your privacy settings.

Clicking a contact's icon presents the option to send an e-mail, get directions to the contact's location, and change the precision of location information you'd like to share with the person. The options are "best available location," "only city-level location," and "hide from this friend."

The three privacy options let you set the application to detect your location automatically, to require you to set it manually, and to hide your location altogether.

The Web app integrates with the Gmail contacts list, letting you select contacts you'd like to invite from the list; those who already are Google Latitude users get a special icon to let you know they're signed up already. You also can invite people by their e-mail addresses without using Gmail contacts.

In addition to tracking friends, the menu supplies options to search or clear the map, view traffic, get directions, and see a satellite view.

Before Google announced Latitude for iPhone, we surmised that the Latitude feature is meant as an upgrade--or at least as an alternative--to maps.google.com for iPhone users. In a statement, Google explained that the company worked closely with Apple to create the Latitude experience that works around Apple's inability to run apps--even browser-based--in the background. Google gets around this by updating location when you launch the app, and while it runs in the foreground.

Google's Latitude Web app runs on iPhone operating system 3.0. It is currently available in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and in the U.K., and U.S.