Google launches Latitude web app on iPhone cuz Apple said so…

24 Jul

Earlier in the day, Google announced the much-awaited Latitude feature for the iPhone. Latitude allows users to share their location real-time with their contacts and it was widely expected that iPhone’s OS 3.0 would bring this feature to its default Maps app that runs via Google Maps, but that wasn’t meant to be. There were also speculations that Google would release a Latitude app on the App Store but now they have announced a web app that runs on the iPhone’s Safari browser.

The new iPhone OS allows the browser to access a user’s location (with the user’s consent, of course) and that’s what Latitude latches on. We tried the app here in India and it seems to work perfectly. However, not having the functionality to run in the background, we had to fire up Safari every 10 minutes or so to update our location.

We have nothing against a web app but what bothers us the most is Google did not realease a native app because Apple asked it not to do so.

An excerpt from the post announcing the web app from the Official Google Mobile Blog:

“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.”

What beats us is why a company like Google cannot stand up to Apple and say, “hey, we want a native app” or “why not integrate Latitude on the Maps app itself?,” We believe that the latter would have been more user-friendly as it would not have ‘confused’ users.

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