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Google Latitude is just the beginning

By combining Google Maps with a people-finder, Google can overlay all of its search info, ads and other online properties on top of you

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Yesterday Google announced Google Latitude, a location-based social app that lets you see where your friends are and vice versa. It's available to download on a variety of mobiles, including BlackBerrys, S60 handsets and Windows Mobile phones. As a concept, it's very simple -- but this is the beginning of something huge.

The immediate application of Latitude is to help you keep track of your friends and loved ones, but the potential is vast. By combining Google Maps with a people-finder, Google is opening up its ecosystem to a whole range of real-world situations and solutions. Imagine searching for pizza and your phone vibrating when you're near a takeaway, to take a particularly profound example.

By uploading your exact geographic location into Google's servers, Google can overlay all of its search info, ads and other online properties on top of you. It might sound scary -- and to some extent, it is -- but the practical applications are endless. Large-scale emergencies in particular will benefit greatly from this kind of technology.

What I'm really looking forward to though is seeing this merged with something like Twitter, so that not only do you see where someone is but you also see what they're thinking. Of course it's creepy if you don't want to be tracked, but if people are happy for others to track their tweets, why not their location on Latitude?