A word of advice – the current version is a bit of a drain on battery, and there are a number of bugs within the iPhone version at least which could do with an update. Of course this doesn’t render it useless, and an update from Google would probably make this list a little more viable.
If you’ve got Google Latitude, are thinking of trying it or simply can’t see the point then here’s a few ways you can make use of this handy little app.
A Phone Tracker
Think about it – you should always have a passcode on your smartphone. Should you lose your device without a passcode then your entire life (well, your email, messages and other sensitive information) are at the behest of whoever finds it.
Using Google Latitude isn’t going to stop your phone from being stolen, and nor is it going to get it back should you lose it. If you do however happen to be using Latitude and your phone should get stolen, Latitude will go some way in helping you find it.
Should a thief pull a number on you, turn your phone off and take it back to his den of thieves, when the phone is switched back on Google Latitude should do its thing, find out where you are (GPS co-ordinates maybe, general whereabouts from cell phone signal definitely) and upload that data to the server. Your phone will then show up on Latitude when you login from a PC or check on a friend’s device.
The Ultimate Road Trip Tool
If you’ve ever taken several cars on a road trip then you’ll know about the perils of losing each other. Unexpected detours, random “let’s stop here” moments and terrible navigation skills are bound to cause confusion.
Latitude can quite obviously be used here to keep the two (or however many are in your convoy) at a comfortable distance. Should someone stop for fuel or coffee, a simple glance at Latitude will pinpoint their location. You could then even route the location straight from Google Maps, or keep driving till you catch up.
On a serious note please don’t go fiddling with your smartphones whilst driving, get one of your passengers to do it!
Beating The Crowds
If you’ve ever been to a music festival then you’ll appreciate how difficult it is meeting friends “in purple campsite, by tower 2 next to the big tree”. With Latitude you can check exactly where your friends are camped and walk directly there.
This doesn’t just apply to music festivals – shopping centres, showgrounds, airports and other busy public places could all benefit from the Latitude treatment.
A Hiking & Outdoor Pursuit Tool
The argument that if you’re really that into hiking then you’d buy a dedicated GPS unit somewhat nullifies this, but then not everyone has the money for an expensive weatherproof navigation tool. Smartphones are on the up however, and now more and more of us have them (so let’s get some serious use out of them).
So say you’re not that into hiking, but you enjoy a good walk and some fresh air. Why not use Latitude to record your hike? You could even add any pictures you took along the way to a map and share it with other walkers and friends.
If nothing else it serves as log of your route, and you could choose to follow it again, alter it slightly next time or simply mark it off your list. This also applies to cycling!
Finding Fido & Tracing Teenagers
In the same spirit as our uses for an old smartphone article, many of us have last year’s tech sitting around the house. By “last year’s tech” I’m referring to old cell phones, and an increasing number of older smartphones with decent, usable features.
If you’re a particularly paranoid dog owner or own a notoriously adventurous pooch, sticking an old smartphone running Latitude onto the collar isn’t a bad idea – just make sure you find a decent waterproof, resilient and dog-friendly housing.
You could also use it to keep tabs on your kids, but then that depends on whether you view this as going a little too far or not. I’d also hazard a guess that they’d figure out a way of switching it off, I know I would.
The other reason to use Latitude is simply because it’s fun tracking your journeys, building up a map of exactly where you’ve been. The few other uses listed here will hopefully give you a few fresh ideas for making the most out of Google Latitude.
As for Latitude’s privacy and other concerns? Well I’ll be exploring them in my next article, so stay tuned.
Have those of you who are using Google Latitude come up with any other uses? Would you ever use Google Latitude or a service like it? Have your say in the comments below.