Google Latitude for iPhone Released but as an iPhone Web App

Google had launched a new feature in Google Maps called Latitude back in Feb that allowed users to share their location with their friends and family. At the time of the launch, Google has announced that the feature will be released very soon to the iPhone, through Google Mobile App.

Google has finally released Google Latitude for iPhone but as an iPhone web app and not a native iPhone app. Google has clearly mentioned on their blog that they had to release the feature as a web app due to limitations imposed by Apple on third party iPhone apps.

Mat Balez, Product Manager, Google Mobile Team had this to say on their 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.
However, the problem with the web app or for that matter even a native iPhone app, which cannot run in the background is that it dilutes the functionality of the feature by a great extent as it does not continuously update the location. In case of the iPhone web app, your location will get updated only if you launch the web app.

Balez has recognized this limiation:

Unfortunately, since there is no mechanism for applications to run in
the background on iPhone (which applies to browser-based web apps as
well), we’re not able to provide continuous background location updates
in the same way that we can for Latitude users on Android, Blackberry,
Symbian and Window Mobile. Nevertheless, your location is
updated every time you fire up the app and then continuously updated
while the app is running in the foreground. And, of course, you can
check in on where your friends are, so we think there’s plenty of fun
to be had with Latitude.
Apple has always maintained that it does not want to allow iPhone apps to run in the background at this stage as they believe it would have considerable impact on iPhone’s battery life so they introduced the Push Notification Service in iPhone OS 3.0 as a workaround, which works well for Instant Messaging apps but it is useless for apps like Google Latitude etc. I think Apple will only allow third party iPhone apps to run in the background in future versions of the iPhone when there is significant improvements made to extend battery life.

You can checkout Google Latitude, by typing google.com/latitude in your iPhone’s Safari browser. 

Please don’t forget to drop us a line to give us your feedback about Google Latitude for iPhone.

[via Google Mobile Blog]