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Google Makes Tracking Friends Easy...And Creepy

Google has released a new mobile application that uses location-based technology to track the movements of your friends. Once a user downloads the software to his or her mobile phone, the app then displays a user's location on a map for friends to see, so they can track where that person is at all times. Called Google Latitude, the feature comes with the new version of Google Maps, and is accessible on Google's G1 phone, most color BlackBerrys, most Windows Mobile devices and a few other smartphones. Google says it will soon support the iPhone, iPod Touch and Sony Ericsson phones.

If this sounds a little scary to you, you're not alone. Fortunately, Latitude is opt-in only, so no one can see your location without your permission. Like any good social application, status updates on Latitude are reflected in other Google programs, like Google's IM tool, Google Talk, but they're not compatible with third party mobile programs like Facebook or Twitter.

In her review, The Wall Street Journal's Katherine Boehret notes that, like other GPS-based apps, Latitude is often inaccurate. It can also be "just plain creepy," which is why Google incorporates many easy-to-change privacy settings; locations can be automatically detected, manually entered or completely hidden from others. Or, if you want to be completely invisible, you can sign out of the program altogether.

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Read the whole story at The Wall Street Journal »

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