How To Trace a Mobile Phone Location with Google Latitude

radar 150x150   How To Trace a Mobile Phone Location with Google Latitude The one drawback of being so heavily into both the latest technologies and cool Internet applications is that when the two seamlessly combine to form the ultimate, ultra-useful application with unlimited potential – it causes you to break into a cold sweat from just the excitement alone. Once I realized that someone can trace a mobile phone location with Google Latitude was possible, I had to run around the block a few times to burn off my excitement before sitting down to write this article.

How Tracing a Mobile Phone Location With Google Latitude Works

The cool thing about Google Latitude is that there are really no fancy, expensive gadgets required. All you need is a mobile phone and you can build what’s essentially a GPS network of friends, without the need for GPS technology. Wondering whether your buddy Jim is still at work? Just log onto Google Latitude, or check Google Maps on your phone, and sure enough, Jim’s icon shows up on the map where he works. Did your best friend go missing after her date the other night? If she left her phone on, all of her friends can check out where she’s currently located.

The potential uses of this technology are amazing, and Google is just getting started by integrated it’s cellular triangulation technology with Google Maps. MakeUseOf authors previously covered similar applications, such as NavXS and BuddyWay. However, BuddyWay requires that the phone or PDA is GPS enabled. The convenience of Google Latitude is that you don’t need GPS, and it’ll work on almost any mobile phone that can use Google Maps. According to Google, these include Android-powered devices, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile 5.0+ and Symbian.

googlelat1   How To Trace a Mobile Phone Location with Google Latitude

Setting it up is as easy as typing your phone number into the entry field on the Google Latitude main page, or you can visit “google.com/latitude” with your mobile device and install it directly. It’s basically the latest version of Google Maps with Latitude embedded. Once you’ve installed this version on your phone, you’re good to go – just click on “Menu” and then “Latitude.”

Setting Up Google Latitude With a Network of Friends

Setting up the application on your mobile device is a piece of cake. Once you open Latitude on your phone, you can immediately start adding friends with their email address. If none of your friends have Latitude installed on their phones yet, forward them this article and tell them to install it!

setup1   How To Trace a Mobile Phone Location with Google Latitude

When you first fire up the map after you’ve enabled Latitude with your profile, you’ll immediately see your regular Google map pointer replaced by your picture icon, email address and your location the last time your device was polled.

setup21   How To Trace a Mobile Phone Location with Google Latitude

This is cool and everything, and as I outlined in a previous MakeUseOf article on Google Maps, this application does a great job keeping the map updated with your status within a certain radius, depending on where the nearest cell towers are. However, while keeping track of yourself on the map while you’re driving or walking around town is fun, it can get pretty boring when you’re doing it alone. Latitude lets you have a little bit of fun with your network of friends by letting you add each of them to your Latitude “friends” list so that you can see their locations too. To test this feature, I called up a friend of mine with a Blackberry down in Derry, New Hampshire, and asked him to fire up Latitude and add me as a friend. Once we confirmed each other as friends, I instantly showed up on his map and he showed up on mine!

addedfriend   How To Trace a Mobile Phone Location with Google Latitude

When you click on your friend’s icon, you can see their contact and location information, or you can choose how you want to share your own information with this specific friend. This means that you can pick and choose the level of privacy that you want for your own status updates based on individual friends. You can provide your exact location to your best friend, while keeping your details somewhat vague for your parents. Also, within the Latitude menu, you can set your privacy level for everyone across the board.

privacy   How To Trace a Mobile Phone Location with Google Latitude

You can toggle your privacy settings back and forth, so that when you’re somewhere that you don’t want anyone to know about, you just flip your status to “Hide your location.” When you’re back where you’re supposed to be, you just flip your privacy back to “Detect your location.” If you want to fool your friends (or your boss) into thinking that you’re somewhere you’re not, you can manually set your location.

Using Google Latitude Online

Of course, tracing a mobile phone location isn’t enough for Google. This is the part that really made me raise my eyebrows. Google has incorporated this mobile technology into an online gadget that you can view and manipulate from your iGoogle page.

igoogle5   How To Trace a Mobile Phone Location with Google Latitude

This means that even if you don’t have your mobile phone with you, but you have access to the Internet, you can check out where all of your friends are at the moment, or update your own location on Latitude so that they know where you are. This whole concept takes the whole architecture and intent of Twitter and adds another entire level of graphical interactivity to it, with visual, real-time status updates for your friends. The next evolution of this technology that I envision is the ability to embed a Google Latitude widget in your blog or web page that allows you to share your own Latitude location information with your readers. Since the status bar already exists for short text updates, this feature would turn Google Latitude into a more graphical version of Twitter.

Have you ever used any of the latest “friend tracking” mobile phone technologies for tracing a mobile phone location? Which one is your favorite? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

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54 Comments -

0 votes

AJ

Your title is really misleading.

You make it seem like you can triangulate a cell phone’s actual position or something using Google Latitude.

Instead it’s just a basic user’s guide for getting into Latitude.

1 votes

Ryan Dube

AJ, I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. This article IS about triangulating a cell phone’s actual position using Google Latitude….? You can see from the screen shot above where I show how to set up a friend and then there are even sample screenshots of Latitude triangulating his position as well as mine.

If you’re talking about a way to do that without someone’s permission, that’s a whole different ballgame. I doubt Google (or anyone) would ever enable that ability due to privacy issues. I would be interested in hearing what other people think about that concept though (if Google would remove that step and you could track anyone by cell number alone…) Just think of the ramifications of that…

0 votes

Gints

i dint get !! how can i track my frend location ? where i shuld to put his phone number to get the location ?

0 votes

My Location (requires a lot)

I beg to differ. A friend of mine was able to trace me on his Blackberry with just a phone number and I never accepted anything. I did not accept an invite like what is required on the My Location feature on the Latitude app. I recall vaguely Latitude’s introduction and the 2009 update, but where is that app that just tells you where a friend is on the iPhone with just a phone number. He was able to locate me and I was like how did he do that?

0 votes

Al

What’s the resolution? Can I zoom in to see which room of a building a person is in or is the resolution at the “cell tower” range which could be from a few thousand feet to miles.

They need to tie this into the phone camera for a live friend “street view” service!

0 votes

the daily gadget

now this is really cool. only a matter of time before someone finds a way to track phones without permission though :/

0 votes

CoB

Tracking cell phones without permission is easy. You guys just haven’t figured it out yet.

0 votes

jamy

how do you do it?

0 votes

sabi

how do u track cellphones without permission?

0 votes

cardgame

there is one MAJOR draw back to all of this… Privacy. What if I DON”T what to be found. What if I am interviewing at a competitor while my boss is looking for me, what if I am buy a present for my wife at a particular high end store. For that matter what if I am at the stripclub and don’t want my girlfriend to find out, or a sporting event when I was suppose to be with a “sick friend”. There are a multitude of reasons why any number of people DO NOT want to be found. And using tools like this can be an infringement.

Beleive me, as soon as someone gets located doing something they were not suppose to and it resulted in trouble (divorce, being fired, etc) the lawsuits are going to fly.

0 votes

budda

If you’ve got a wife and a girlfriend, you’ve got trouble already, dude!

0 votes

Lint

Resolution is vague, you can’t even be sure if someone is really at that street or the next, or the next one.
And I’m talking about a gps-enabled device, not just triangulation which less accuracy than gps.
The update freq is even worse, about once a minute here.
The tech is great, but I guess they limit its power due to privacy concerns, like someone attaching a cell phone into your car to track you down…

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Yeah – it resolution depends a great deal on where the nearest cell towers are. My friend and I tested it this weekend to see how accurate it was. He has Verizon and there’s a cell tower right in town – it had his location correct right down to town level (not building – it can’t do that). My resolution was more vague, it had me in the next town over, and I’m assuming it’s because that’s where the AT&T cell tower was located. In the end though, it shows you more or less where your friends are (if they “share out” their position, that is). Privacy IS a setting within Google Latitude, and you can even turn off your location if you like so you essentially go “invisible” to either all friends, or select ones, as outlined in the article. Thanks for the great feedback everyone.

0 votes

Kranz

Latitude uses GPS if it is available on your phone, which makes the location reporting far more accurate.

In addition to being able to turn of sharing of your position, you can also custom set your position that is shared. You could potentially say you are in NYC when you are really in LA.

0 votes

wow

I think this is totally scary. What ever happened to privacy? When will they have a i-poop app that tweets my color and level of stink of my poop? Seriously, too much info.

0 votes

Rasputin

The drawback to Google Latitude is that it doesn’t run in the background. If you switch to another application, your position updates will stop.

0 votes

Omar Qureshi

Not true – it actually depends on your mobile device / operating system. On BlackBerry and Symbian handsets, Google Maps/ Latitude runs in the background and keeps updating the location.

0 votes

Michael The Dumb Tech Geek

I think it is quite cool that you can track your location even without the GPS functionality. But my question behind this service was, is a data plan necessary? I’d love if it weren’t, but since “accessing sites from your phone” kept getting mentioned I’m thinking a data plan is a necessity for this service. Which is a shame because I’m all about the texting but can’t justify the expense of a data plan since the only place I don’t have an Internet connection is when I’m driving. And everyone who loves me doesn’t WANT me to have a connection at those times :-)

0 votes

Shreela

I want to join, but don’t want to put in my phone number. I just want to manually enter my nearest major intersection so people would know which part of town I’m from. But I can’t see a way to join without providing my phone number.

0 votes

jacksparrow

then wats the point of the whole thing??

0 votes

Michael The Dumb Tech Geek

Does Google have a blog we can make these suggestions to? I’ve got some issues with Google Calendar as well.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Hey Michael…haha, I hear ya on the Internet connection while driving point. Can’t tell you how many times my wife has scolded me to “put that thing away!” My phone, that is… Anyway, yes, you need to be able to run Google Maps on your phone, and most standard cellphones either can’t, or they don’t have the data plan to support it, as you point out. On the flip side, you CAN add the widget to iGoogle and manually set wherever you are (or are going to be) so that friends and family know what’s up. You make a good point though – Google really should consider allowing people to somehow text there location to Latitude after signing up..that would be a cool feature…

0 votes

aimee

idont have internet on my phone am i able to track it down on my pc internet?

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Hi Shreela, great question. Yes, if you look on the Google Latitude page, just below the login there’s an option to add the widget to iGoogle. I don’t believe you need to enter your phone number to do that? Just log in with your Google ID and it’ll get added, then you can manually enter your location on that page. Good luck, and let me know if you run into any brick walls… I’ve never considered the non-phone approach, but both you and Mike bring up some excellent non-PDA uses.

0 votes

INTERESTING

INTERESTING APP…BUT NOTHING TO DO WITH TWITTER ,ETC; THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT ‘WEB 2.0′ IS GETTING PEOPLE INVOLVED. ANYTHING AUTOMATED IS BORING. PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO JUST LOOK AT A GIANT MAP OF WHERE THEY’RE FRIENDS ARE. THEY WANT TO HEAR WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY ABOUT WHERE THEY ARE, AND THEY WANT TO SEE WHAT THE OTHER PEOPLE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT IT AS WELL!! THE ABILITY TO INTERACT IN A FUN, FRIENDLY AND SIMPLE INTERFACE. I HAVE A START UP I’M DEVELOPING, IF ANYONE’S INTERESTED E-MAIL ME AND WE’LL CHAT.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

That’s why google provided the ability for you to add updates/comments which will show up. This is essentially just like a Twitter update (which all your friends viewing you on the map can see) except it’s in graphical format.

0 votes

sufyan

I started playing with this and a few friends as soon as I heard of it. I only really see it being useful beyond a novelty in an innocent sense for a) finding your phone when lost or stolen/your friend if kidnapped and b) at a parade or some big public out door event where you want to have an easier time coordinating with lots of friends where to hang out etc. meet up.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

I think the usefulness is limited only by creativity. For example, what about these uses:

1. Several family members traveling over the holidays to a single location, everyone can see how close everyone else is.
2. A project manager could use it to identify where all his/her field agents are with one glance.
3. Long-distance truck-driving companies could use it as a low-cost (free) alternative to using GPS for locating where there trucks are currently at.

etc…the list goes on and on, folks just need to have some imagination.

0 votes

Russell

I cant use it on my mobile… but is it possible can i use it on net ?

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Yes – if you go to the Google page listed in this article, there’s an online map associated with your account. You can set your current location manually using that map so that even if your mobile doesn’t update Google Latitude, you still can.

0 votes

SamayCSA

Thanks for a great article, I just wanted to let you know that Microsoft has a similar technology, that lets you find your laptop anywhere on Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, its called Microsoft Location Finder. Note that this does not need any mobile connectivity, just the Wi-Fi capabilty of your laptop, and it will post the location of your laptop. I did a detailed article on this, if you are interested please have a look at:

0 votes

Samaycsa

For some reason I left out the URL in the previous post, here it is again indiawebsearch.com/content/what-is-microsoft-location-finder

0 votes

sudha

If any way to trace mobile through IMEI No.

0 votes

Silent

I’d be interested in that fo show!~

0 votes

Al

My blackberry keeps running latitude in the background (eats up the battery) How to i turn off as i can find the latitude logon/off screen on my phone

0 votes

Pallav

my g-map is giving me a weird location. even when I’m in Mysore, India. it’s showing my location in Ukraine. can any body help.

0 votes

Matt

Try mr tracker from mrxsystem.com works pretty good. I’ve been using it for work purposes for atleast 3 months now. it allows you track a mobile phone by sms. abit freeky but works great.

0 votes

chiru

as well as good desistion

0 votes

Desmond

Hey RYAN,you gat a nice posts here.I appreciate.But I have this question. Is this whole thing dependent on ones geographical area? I’m commenting from nigeria. So is it really possible here?

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Hey Desmond – thanks for your comment & question. No, Google Latitude will work across the globe wherever there are cell towers (cellular service). Give it a shot and let us know how it works for you!

0 votes

Claire

My phone was stolen a few hours ago (D:), and I was searching the internet for hours on end trying to find the EXACT location on my phone. It was brand new and the best phone I have ever had… so I won’t stop until I find it.

Can it track the exact latitude and longitude location it is at at that current time?

0 votes

UCI Study

We are researchers studying people’s attitudes towards Google Latitude. If you have heard of Google Latitude (whether you have used it or not) and are at least 18 years old, we would like to talk with you. Please email us back at ucistudy@ics.uci.edu .

We are conducting this research under the Institute for Software Research at the University of California, Irvine.

0 votes

Esha

Hey friends I have a query I hope u’ll me. If I am not interested to join Google Latitude then am I able to find location of people with their numbers…??
I search on internet then I got the results only to find the state but I need help to find the proper address…!!
Can anyone of u help me out from this problem plzzzz…??

0 votes

tashkeel

yea there is a way you can find mobile number is imei number no: then location by that number.

0 votes

tashkeel

yea there is a way you can find mobile number by imei number no: then location by that number.

0 votes

Zelda 1

I have 5 Cell phones on my US Cellular Family package.
Mine is the only one that has Win Mobile, the others are the typical cell phones. I have the HTC Touch Pro,it has lattitude on it & I use it.
I want to be able to track them some how with lattitude,
Or some other application, preferrably on my cell phone.

0 votes

sourabh

hi manoj can u tell me from where can i download the software to locate the mobile by tower location

0 votes

Alex

Informative, however, does it really work? Thanks for reply.

0 votes

Ritesh

How can I get the location of my friends cell number

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Google Latitude has to be installed on the phone for it to work, your friend needs to be willing to install and run Google Latitude on their phone. After that, you can trace their phone no matter where they are.

0 votes

Pratik

Hey friends I have a query I hope u’ll me. If I am not interested to join Google Latitude then am I able to find location of people with their numbers…??
I search on internet then I got the results only to find the state but I need help to find the proper address…!!
Can anyone of u help me out from this problem plzzzz…??

0 votes

Johnny Doe

This also works on wifi. I guess google or someone goes out and maps the latitude and longitude of wireless access points and it will display your location that way. It’s pretty accurate also, to within 300 meters. I was surprised to find that they had mapped the Wifi in my neighborhood.

1 votes

ayu

no…it cant work with my phone. do any one know here how to locate phone number (especially a phone which is not configure with a google map such as the old phone)
im sure no body know it because old technology can be safe

0 votes

tj

One thing if you are squeeky clean. Another if you are being tracked or you are a member of anything the Gov is querrying about. Its very very dangerous to get yourself tracked. You are basically opening up yourself to everyone who can look for you, even the FBI or any other entity.