Seeking to make Latitude, Google’s location-aware friend finder, more engaging and useful the company has added location history and alerts to the service. Location Alerts, which require Location History to be enabled, tell you when friends are in the area. The system is smart enough to recognize routine places like home and work so it will only send alerts when you and your friends are in an “unusual place.” According to the Google blog post:
Using your past location history, Location Alerts can recognize your regular, routine locations and not create alerts when you’re at places like home or work. Alerts will only be sent to you and any nearby friends when you’re either at an unusual place or at a routine place at an unusual time.
Once turned on, Location History tracks your trip, movements and places you’ve been (that’s how it recognizes common and “unusual” places). It creates a kind of record of travels or activities. One could establish, for example, a My Map later of favorite places through Location History.
Google says that your history isn’t broadcast to your friends — although they can potentially see you move from place to place in real time if you allow them — and can be edited to remove places that you don’t want included in your history. While there are many practical use cases some people may be uncomfortable with the idea of all one’s movements being recorded. Not being of the “no privacy issues” generation, I rarely broadcast where I actually am on Latitude:
Accordingly you don’t have to enable Location History if you don’t want to, but you also don’t get the benefit of location alerts either.