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Google Latitude Arrives For the iPhone — As a Web App 195

Posted by Soulskill
from the on-again-off-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After months of waiting, the Google Latitude social maps service finally arrived for the iPhone ... but thanks to an Apple rejection of the natively developed app, it's a web app. Says Google on their blog, 'We worked closely with Apple to bring Latitude to the iPhone in a way Apple thought would be best for iPhone users. After we developed a Latitude application for the iPhone, Apple requested we release Latitude as a web application in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone.' But it gets worse for iPhone users: 'Unfortunately, since there is no mechanism for applications to run in the background on iPhone (which applies to browser-based web apps as well), we're not able to provide continuous background location updates in the same way that we can for Latitude users on Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile.' Latitude has been sprouting new features lately and is an interesting take on social networking, but it looks like Apple is determined to ensure its users only get a seriously crippled implementation compared to the Android and WinMo versions. PC World put it less politely than Google did, saying, 'Google's new Latitude Web app for iPhone is so hamstrung that Apple customers may be wishing they had a BlackBerry or Android handset instead.'"
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Google Latitude Arrives For the iPhone — As a Web App

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  • Apple always have something cooking, maybe an update for maps is around the corner taking in this functionality. I wouldn't discount it especially when they want to be at the forefront for mobile applications.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pollardito (781263)
      I believe the Maps app on the iPhone is made by Google, so if there was an update around the corner that added this functionality I would think that Google would be aware of it
  • by schnikies79 (788746) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @12:34PM (#28827747)

    Happy iPhone user here.

    Although I couldn't give less of a crap about this particular application (it's pretty worthless overall, in my opinion). They do need to open up the API a bit or they are going to be passed by.

    Frankly, I think they will. Steve Jobs isn't one to be outdone by competition.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by moon3 (1530265)
      Steve Jobs had lots of misses too. I don't think Apple is invincible.
    • by jellomizer (103300) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @01:18PM (#28828061)

      There is a real balance out there. The reason for the tight control is to prevent damaging software, which is a good thing. However Apple needs to lay off on apps that compete with the phones defaults. Sure their stuff is good but it doesn't always quite feet the need where a new app could.

      I personally think their process should just check to insure the app doesn't kill the phone or slow it down way to much. And that it is age related. But besides that, let the honest companies make software without worry that they will get denied just because of some app approver with a God complex.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        This is a pretty clear case of anticompetitive behavior, and whether it's illegal or not, it's bad for the customer.

    • MobileMe: $99/year/customer for Apple. The main selling point for a great many prospective users isn't any of the other junk they don't care about, it's being able to essentially LoJack their phones - something all the more critical as there aren't the usual insurance plans for the expensive piece of hardware that you have to pay $600 to replace.

      Latitude: $0/year/customer for Apple. In many ways would provide the same service.

      I'd suggest that, whilst you may see the app as pretty worthless, Apple sees it as

    • Very insightfully said. If Steve Jobs perceives Apple to be falling behind compared to the competition, then he'll open it up. But no sooner.
      (happy iPhone and Mac user here as well)

    • by giorgist (1208992)
      Where is my second mouse button dammitt ?!?!?!
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @12:42PM (#28827823) Homepage

    Yet another iPhone discussion that includes "apple will not allow [X]"... They are starting to bore and depress me as they are rather futile. The Apple fans will always blindly support and back the Apple position. People who disagree with the Apple position will always see things as they do as well. Neither side will win the other over. And if it did, Apple would just kill the iPhone project completely.

    I have to wonder if there is ever anything "apple fans" ever complain or disagree with Apple about? I'd like to hear from Apple fans to know if they are actually independent or completely sold into the Apple view. I remember some faint complaints about the change to OSX but those didn't last long. The "classic" mode also raised a bit of ire and frustration as I recall. But is Apple "simply perfect?" Can Apple do no wrong?

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @01:02PM (#28827953)

      Yet another iPhone discussion that includes "apple will not allow [X]"... They are starting to bore and depress me as they are rather futile. The Apple fans will always blindly support and back the Apple position... I have to wonder if there is ever anything "apple fans" ever complain or disagree with Apple about?

      You're committing the no true scotsman fallacy here. You define Apple fans as people who will support anything Apple does and then question if Apple fans will ever complain or disagree. There are plenty of people who like a lot of what Apple does, but still are happy to complain about what Apple does that they don't like. If someone is complaining about Apple here, how do you know if they're an Apple fan on other topics?

      Apple has restrictive and problematic policies that make it difficult or impossible for some applications to work properly. This is certainly a problem. At the same time, those same policies are preventing the iPhone experience form being overrun with a million really crappy applications that degrade the normal user's experience and present huge security and performance problems. Those people complaining that Apple is not competitive when you look at a laundry list of features other smartphones have are completely missing the point. That's not why Apple products become successful. Apple is good at creating a good user experience for normal people and providing only the subset of features they can do well and which contribute to making the overall experience better. Apple wants long battery life, apps sandboxed from one another for security, and apps quality and security checked through a single pipeline. So far a lot of normal users really like that. When they can do other things well enough they'll add those, but they aren't going to rush to add new things just because other phones have them, if Apple doesn't think it will be an overall benefit. If you don't like that, you're probably not their target market.

      P.S. I don't have an iPhone and am not really their target market either. I can just appreciate the value of what they do for normal users.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)

        My impression was that the appstore is already a morass of crap anyway (the crap in the store might not present resource or security problems, but that doesn't mean it is useful).

        I agree with your assessment that Apple tries to sell a good experience, but from what I can tell, the Appstore suffers from the same plight as pretty much every freeware review site, inclusiveness is favored over editorial opinion (they sort of have to do this is they are going to sell the phones in a state that is locked to their

      • by bytesex (112972)

        Another Apple user here (Macbook this time); I agree with your post and newsletter etc: I'm overall happy with my Mac, but I think Apple is doing certain things that invoke the wrath of us geeks because they are /too/ dumbed down (and cannot be smartened up). Something we used to acuse Microsoft of as well, ironically enough. Another 'feature' is the binary lock-in (which resonates with the subject at hand here); I always hold my breath when doing a software update. Not only do they require reboots too o

      • It's true, this is a known fallacy. A true Scotsman would have figured this out.

      • Very well thought out reply to an OP who seems to have brain switched off.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      Apple fan since '91 here, and yea, I have some complaints.

      No MMS on the iPhone. Video I don't give a rip about, but the lack of MMS is annoying.
      The USB keyboards have always been too damned small.
      The USB mice have always sucked from Apple, the ADB mice rocked though.
      Moving power to the side of the MacBooks/Powerbooks also sucked.

      Documentation has lacked for a decade or so too.

      • Do the USB mice really suck? I thought the mighty mouse with the scroll bar is pretty nice (though the be fair I don't use one on a daily basis). Of course anything is an improvement after the hockey puck...

    • On the off chance that you're asking an honest question, I'll give you an honest answer. I am an Apple fan, I own an iPod Touch, a Macbook, a G5 iMac, and a G4 iBook. I guess I qualify. Thinks I don't like about Apple products? iTunes, for one. Since iPhoto got upgraded in Leopard, iTunes is the shittiest piece of software that Apple has let out of Cupertino. I hate it. The only reason I haven't switched away from it is that I haven't found anything better for the Mac to manage a music collection. I also

    • The Apple fans will always blindly support and back the Apple position. The Apple haters will always blindly attack the Apple position.

      There, FTFY. You had a minor consistency error.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        I don't hate Apple computers or the OS. Professionally, I support Mac OS 9, Mac OS X and a wide variety of apps that run on them... along with Windows clients and servers, apps... and Linux. I have no use for an iPod or an iPhone, however. I just get tired of the discussion and would like to hear some middle-ground once in a while. Fortunately, I did get a couple of responders who are more centerist and that was more or less what I was after. But I have to say that since I am on the geek side and like

    • Yet another iPhone discussion that includes "apple will not allow [X]"... They are starting to bore and depress me as they are rather futile. The Apple fans will always blindly support and back the Apple position

      Do you really see a lot of people who are "blindly support[ing]" Apple here? I've read through a lot of the comments and I don't see much (if any at all) of that...

      Agreed that this is a geek-emotion battle and neither side is ever going to convince the other with arguments.

      I have to wonder if there is ever anything "apple fans" ever complain or disagree with Apple about? I'd like to hear from Apple fans to know if they are actually independent or completely sold into the Apple view.

      I'm going to put the onus on you -- where are these Apple fans who claim that apple can do no wrong and is perfect in every way?

    • by dissy (172727)

      I have to wonder if there is ever anything "apple fans" ever complain or disagree with Apple about? I'd like to hear from Apple fans to know if they are actually independent or completely sold into the Apple view. I remember some faint complaints about the change to OSX but those didn't last long. The "classic" mode also raised a bit of ire and frustration as I recall. But is Apple "simply perfect?" Can Apple do no wrong?

      Well played troll sir! Well played!
      Lets play fetch first, then I'll give you a treat!

      I am an apple fan. This choice, and those like it relating to rejecting apps from the store for very stupid reasons does indeed piss me off.

      So your entire argument is now moot, as 'all' apple fans do not follow your description.
      (Remember, it only takes 1 person out of all of them to make the filter 'all' answer as false)

      While this is not why I jail broke my phone, it is one more advantage to doing so.
      My guess is that appl

    • by mgblst (80109)

      The Apple fans will always blindly support and back the Apple position.

      I am an Apple fan. I think Apple have made a great product in the iPhone and Macbook, but certainly they could make them better. As an iphone developer, there are parts that annoy me, some of them I understand why they do it (the approval process), some of the baffle me (UIWebview ratings, modifying the camera view).

      I don't use this feature, I understand why Apple wouldn't allow it, but think they are wrong. But heh, they run this huge c

  • by bangpound (1106805) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @12:48PM (#28827867)
    Google Latitude is an immature service. It's not as interesting or useful as Brightkite or even Loopt. However, the web app is brilliant. The responsiveness of the app is not very different from the iPhone Maps app. The directions tool is in some ways better. The fact that it's not a "real" app isn't important to me. In fact, it shows that most of the apps out there are unnecessary... they could be web apps instead.
  • Flamebate-tastic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by crmarvin42 (652893)

    but it looks like Apple is determined to ensure its users only get a seriously crippled implementation compared to the Android and WinMo versions.

    I think a more accurate replacement for this line would be, "but it looks like Apple is unwilling to make exceptions to their developer agreement for Google. Unfortunately, this means a crippled implementation compared to the Android and WinMo versions."

    This summary makes it seem as though Apple conciously went out of their way to cripple the app, instead simply being inflexible in it's design restrictions. Everyone and their cat has an opinion on Apples "1 app at a time" policy, and that's fine. Bash

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      "This summary makes it seem as though Apple conciously went out of their way to cripple the app,"

      Actually, they did. Didn't you read the part of the summary where Apple insisted that it not be a native app and had to be a web-app instead? They -are- going out of their way to cripple it.

      • Actually they didn't.

        The told Google that their app would not be approvable for inclusion in the App Store because it requires the ability to run in the background. They suggested that the best way to get the app on the iPhone would be to load it as a web app for this reason.

        Google could have decided to modify the app so that it was approvable, but decided against that. Since Apple didn't write they app, they can't "intentionally cripple" it, they can only veto the apps inclusion in the app store if t
    • I don't understand how the biggest, douchiest "open source" advocates who whine about DRM to no end are such huge Apple fans when the iPhone is the most CLOSED mobile system on the planet. It's just dumbfounding. I can't write my OWN FUCKING apps that run on the iPhone. It's astonishing to me, really.

  • by YourExperiment (1081089) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @01:08PM (#28827993)

    This must be a tiny bit embarrassing for Google. They're staking their reputation on Chrome OS, an OS based on the principle that native apps have had their day, and that everything we want to do can be done perfectly well through web apps.

    Yet everyone's describing Google's web app as "crippled" on the iPhone, solely because Apple wouldn't allow them to release the native version of it. Why did they even deem it necessary to write a native version in the first place?

    Incidentally, is there something in the Slashdot terms and conditions which means the site has to get worse every day? I can't even interact with the comment box with my mouse any more, it just ignores all clicks as if there's another HTML element overlaying it. This is truly pathetic.

    • Did you even RTFA? It's one thing for web apps to be fully functional on a desktop or a notebook, it's quite another on a handset. The specific issue as hand is that it's crippled because it can't run in the background, due to the iPhone's shitty implementation of multi-tasking, whereas as a native app they were hoping it could. If, however, it were the Pre, for example, this would be a non-issue, because Pre users can just keep a background browser open continuously if they want, and open other browsers at
      • Did you even RTFA?

        Yes.

        It's one thing for web apps to be fully functional on a desktop or a notebook, it's quite another on a handset.

        No it isn't, it's precisely the same thing.

        it's crippled because it can't run in the background, due to the iPhone's shitty implementation of multi-tasking, whereas as a native app they were hoping it could

        Why would they be hoping that? I think they'd be aware of the fact that neither web apps nor native apps can run on the background on an iPhone.

        • You're clueless. Google's vision is a standardized "browser" running web apps. It's not some shitty mobile browser developed by Apple that will only run one thing at a time, not in the background.

          Your original post, to which GP replied, was some wierd accusation of how CRAZY it was that google complained they couldn't write a native app but had to write a webapp. What's stupid about your original post is that Google must do this because Apples web app execution environment is limited and sucky.

      • by kimvette (919543)

        Wrong.On a convergence device like the iPhone where you are forced to buy an unlimited data service, you are practically guaranteed to have connectivity to the cloud. That is not so on a standalone desktop or notebook. iPhone is down? Just drive a mile or two away and get perfect high-speed connection. Your cable or DSL is down? Make an appointment with your ISP and wait days to weeks for a resolution.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @01:15PM (#28828035) Homepage

    ... but thanks to an Apple rejection of the natively developed app, it's a web app.

    Breaking iTunes compatibility on Linux and Blackberry and now they're crippling a Google app. What up? I'm sure there's a strategy here, I just can't see it.

    I don't think trying to Balkanize their services and regulate iPhone users is going to ultimately be good for them or their user base. The iPhone user demographic may not have the same brand loyalty as the Apple faithful.

    Beyond that I've always been impressed with Apple's execution...until recently. Instead of their usual suave and polish, always being ahead of the curve in packaging and style, lately they seem to be heavy handed and bumbling around a bit. Reactive instead of their usual proactive. Being reactive and heavy handed reminds me of Microsoft and even though I'm not a Mac fan myself I really appreciate what Apple did well.

    I hope they right themselves and implement a service strategy with the same quality they've shown in other areas. If they start trying to make iPhones the AOL of cellular services, then Google and other providers are going to out-maneuver them with superior service offerings on a wider range of devices.

    Maybe it's some flashback to the OS wars. Instead of a big market share and being the dominant player in the field, Apple is setting themselves up for a smaller but more loyal market share. Which could be either good or bad depending on how you feel about them tying their OS to their hardware.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by indiechild (541156)

      Apple has always been like this. It's Steve Jobs' style.

      Sometimes it's maddening. But my overall experience with Apple products is still overwhelmingly positive, which is why I keep buying and using them.

      Apple doesn't care for "marketshare" as such -- they care about profits. So as long as they get the biggest profits, it doesn't matter what kind of marketshare they have. Indeed, they might have only a small marketshare, which is perfectly fine. That's why Apple refuses to compete at the lower end of the ma

  • background (Score:4, Funny)

    by WillKemp (1338605) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @01:23PM (#28828091) Homepage

    The iphone's OS has no mechanism for running applications in the background??? That's stunning! Is it based on Windows 3.1 or something?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by larry bagina (561269)
      The iPhone OS supports background processes. The app store guidelines ban background apps, to preserve battery life.
    • by topham (32406)

      Actually, the OS itself fully supports it.

      Apple will not allow 3rd parties to write apps that can run in the background.
      This is mostly due to battery life, and memory issues. Do some research on the typical issues people run into with background apps on other platforms and it starts to make a lot of sense. However, in this instance I think Apple is off their rocker. They should create an API to handle on-going location recording and posting.

  • HEY APPLE.

    Worried about us users confusing Latitude with Maps? We're not that stupid.

    Latitude is MUCH nicer. Thanks for putting us users first.

  • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @02:01PM (#28828361) Homepage Journal

    ...that the ultimate narcissist application (everyone needs to know exactly where I am every second!)... ...doesn't work on the ultimate narcissists cell phone.

  • No iphone? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by secureboot (920488)
    This is the first thing that's really made me want to get a non-iPhone. Latitude really introduces a lot of option for apps, and not being able to do this in the background really hamstrings the device. Hope Apple fixes this soon...
  • by Michael G. Kaplan (1517611) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @02:28PM (#28828501)

    AT&T wants to sell their 'AT&T FamilyMap' plan to its users. Subscribers are charged $9.99 for the ability to locate up to 2 other people with AT&T phones $14.99 to locate up to 5 people. Google latitude will do this for free only better because users can locate as many people as they want and it can locate non-AT&T users.

    I think that Apple would be happy to allow this but the problem is that wireless providers abuse their oligopoly status to cripple cell phone features so that users are forced to give the wireless carriers money for things that they otherwise would have been free and better.

    For example Verizon forces smart phone manufacturers to rip out WiFi so users are forced to pay Verizon to access the internet. MP3 players are ripped out of cellphones and replaced by silly paid services such as VCast.

    Banning Latitude is almost certainly just another mundane example of carrier oligopoly abuse. The federal government needs to legislate to stop cell phone carriers from crippling phones.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phroggy (441)

      Banning Latitude is almost certainly just another mundane example of carrier oligopoly abuse. The federal government needs to legislate to stop cell phone carriers from crippling phones.

      Wrong solution!

      The federal government needs break up the oligopoly to allow real competition to thrive. In a competitive market, we can have the features we want without the government having to decide what features those should be, which always causes problems. Verizon can strip wifi out of your phone because they know you're not going to switch to another carrier that supports phones with wifi. There are plenty of reasons why it wouldn't be easy for you to switch - and THAT'S the root of the problem.

      • by swv3752 (187722)

        With Verizon buying up Alltel, and thrid tier carriers such as RCC, it begins to be a hard time to switch. We are now limited to 4 nationwide carriers- AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Depending on where you live, you might have the option of a second tier like Metro-PCS or US Cellular, or a third tier like CellularONE. But if you don't use the big guys, expect some pretty hefty roaming fees as soon as you are not in the home market.

    • This is one of the reasons I jumped ship from Verizon. I got tired of having to go *through* the VCast music store (clicking something along the lines of "Buy Music") to play my music (every single frikkin time).

      Also the fact that to use my own mp3 as a ringtone you had to:
      1. Record a Voice Message clip directly to the SD card
      2. Remove the SD Card form the phone
      3. Plug SD Card to your PC
      4. Copy mp3 onto the SD Card
      5. Re-name mp3 to the same name as the Voice Clip
      6. Put SD Card back into phone
      7. Select the

  • I am not someone who normally posts this sort of anti-google message as I actually LOVE google's applications, functionality, and the real threat they pose to Micro$oft! But even I am starting to get concerned about how willing people are to give away all privacy for a few "colored beads."

    I love all the Google apps, but this is getting rediculous. Now they will have my email, cell phone number, and ability to track my movement. Data mine both to compare my email use and apps use against my movements. Be ab

  • Monopoly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LBArrettAnderson (655246) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:19PM (#28828897)
    "Apple requested we release Latitude as a web application in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone."

    How does Apple get away with that as an excuse when Microsoft gets sued billions of dollars for simply including a web browser or media player with Windows? At least in Windows you can install a different browser!
  • I recently went for a swim with my iPhone of 17 months. Having this necessary decision point, I decided to try a Blackberry Curve 8900. Being intimately familiar with the iPhone both stock and jailbroken, I'm very impressed with the Blackberry. The Blackberry has a microsd card slot that supports up to 32gb. It gives you the option to be a mass-storage device and actually has a pretty decent media player. No OGG support but I can find the exact song I want in my 16gb card in half the time I could on the iPh

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