Google is now expanding its map-based, location-aware service Latitude beyond the the Latitude destination in new ways with a public location sharing badge for third party sites and other apps that incorporate location. The first of those other apps is Google Talk.
In the first example, Google has enabled those already signed up for Latitude to add a location badge to their blog or site. Site owners embed a string of code and a map widget appears, reflecting location according to one’s Latitude settings. Google is recommending city-level location settings for privacy reasons. Here’s how it looks on Danny’s personal blog Daggle (right column) as an example:
This widget is fun and promotes Latitude awareness. Someone who wanted to broadcast their location on a trip or otherwise wanted to let people know where they were could use this, for example.
Perhaps more interesting is broader use of Latitude’s location awareness in “Latitude apps” (the location badge is also an app), the first of which is Google Talk as mentioned. However we can probably expect this program to roll out to other Google apps/products and to third party sites and tools as well. In a way this is parallel to using Google’s Geo-location for Gears API and relies on the same cluster of technologies to identify user-location: IP lookups, cell tower and WiFi triangulation.
We might see a range of third party developers building apps, gadgets or widgets around Latitude’s location. This would be similar to what Yahoo has been trying to do with Fire Eagle.
I asked Google whether we would see a developer gadget or widget gallery with apps that incorporated Latitude location. The person I spoke with wasn’t 100 percent certain about it but agreed it was a possibility. It’s an evolving situation so it’s not entirely clear how this will play out, but I suspect we’ll see something like it in the future.
And now for the inevitable question: Does Google intend to use Latitude location to influence search results, AdWords and so on? Because location can be manipulated on Latitude — I can pretend I’m in Berlin when I’m actually in San Francisco — it’s not entirely reliable. So Google will be cautious about incorporating any of this data into more personalized search results or in choosing the ads that I may see on a SERP. For now there’s no plan to do anything like this according to Google.
Google is also cautioning people to be aware of the privacy implications. Users cannot be selectively blocked. When these apps are enabled everyone gets to see your location (hence the city level recommendation).
Google had previously said that there were over a million sign-ups for Latitude in the first couple of weeks. I asked for any update on that number but Google said it wasn’t going to share anything further on user numbers for the time being.
For more related discussion, see Techmeme.