All Google Location History Dashboard does is remind me how restrictive the iPhone is

Posted by on 27 May, 2010 in My Stream | 3 comments


Google’s location tracking service is quite interesting to me. Firstly, because it is private and cannot be shared – unlike Foursquare and the ilk. And secondly, because it is done as a side-effect of using the useful Google Maps for Mobile app, rather than as a distinct goal in its own right. This makes it a great way to capture extra data for lifelogging.

They’ve recently added a new dashboard which lets you view your location history in more detail. What mine basically tells me, is that as soon as I got my iPhone, I stopped broadcasting my location. Because I’m not a fan of purposeful checking in, I’d only published my location each time I did a maps search (which, being a user of public transport, is often).

And because Apple own the Maps app for iPhone (using Google Maps under license), they have disallowed Latitude from being an app on the iPhone (and it can’t background track until the new iPhone OS 4.0 anyway).

This is all very frustrating because even if Apple allow a Latitude app in iPhone OS 4.0, chances are they won’t integrate it with their Maps app, so it will have to be purposefully launched. One more reason to consider jailbreaking my iPhone…?


  1. I think this post is a little unfair on three counts. Firstly, as you say Apple have announced multitasking is coming in OS 4 almost certainly in 2 weeks. So what if you have to launch a background App – I did that with my N95 and I hardly ever restart my iPhone, unlike my N95. Secondly, it’s worth remembering that the iPhone is still only under 3 years old from it’s very first version, although it’s so ubiquitous that it feels it’s been around a lot longer. It took Nokia significantly longer to get to the N95. Finally, you knew it would do this before you bought it, so why grumble? It’s a bit like complaining you can’t put the roof down in your new car when you knew beforehand it wasn’t a convertible!On the flipside, Android has done phenominally well at getting a rich featureset in a very short space of time and I maintain that smartphones are now a 2 horse race between Apple and Android. However the price of this rich functionality is usability – Android is still more confusing than iPhone. For now.

  2. Feel like I may have hit a nerve there… but to address your points:I chose to get an iPhone because of the superior usability and the greater range of apps, in the full knowledge that it’s a locked down system. It was a trade-off. My perfect phone (Apple interface/usability plus Nokia functionality/flexibility) doesn’t exist, this was the least worst option.There are things about the iPhone I love (e.g. pinch zooming, swiping, streaming video etc) and things I hate (bluetooth restrictions, poor podcast management, tied to App Store). I think it’s reasonable to talk about both. What’s the alternative? Only to praise Apple and not ever criticize anything? I think we should push them to make it even better, as with any product.This is more of a grumble about Apple’s licensing of Google Maps and denying Google the chance to integrate Latitude into a mapping app on the platform (which I think is a natural place for it) than it is about background apps. My point was that even with background apps, Google are still screwed when it comes to mapping/Latitude integration. And that’s solely down to Apple, and it’s a thing it could change. Which is why I mentioned it.I don’t think that the relative youth of the iPhone is particularly relevant here, but maybe I’m missing your point.

  3. Interesting, had no idea you couldn’t use latitude on the iPhone. I’ve just enabled Google location tracking and can’t wait to see the results. Loved my G1, now loving my HTC Desire -for me Android is just getting better and better, and I think the iPhone may soon struggle to keep up.

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