Latitude on iPhone

by Volker Weber

Latitude on iPhone

Missing in action: Latitude in the iPhone Maps application. It's now available on all other smartphone platforms but not the iPhone. From the Google mobile web site it appears that Google will deliver this in a browser application. Not what I was looking for.

I wonder how they are going to update your location when they don't have an app that can run in the background. Only Apple provides this capability in their own apps so far.


I guess, Google Latitude for iPhone will use the same location data as Find My iPhone on MobileMe.
This seems to update your location somehow in the background.
But I would have bet, that the Maps-App in OS 3 comes with Latitude.

Stefan Domanske, 2009-06-11

So did I. However, it's not in there.

Volker Weber, 2009-06-11

I get the impression from watching a lot of the I/O conference sessions that Google's focus for their own mobile apps going forward will be more towards browser based solutions (especially as HTML5 support becomes more ubiquitous, web workers can take care of background processing) rather than build native code specifically for each device.

There is no Android app being planned for Wave for instance, that will run in the browser. This makes sense as the browser has always been the strategic platform for the company.

They have already done some work on mobile Gmail and Calendar that arguably makes those apps better in the browser than they are natively on Android.

Jeff Gilfelt, 2009-06-11

Limited Background apps is going to become a bigger and bigger issue for the iPhone in the comming year (with the pre and android accomplishing it).

Im amazed nobody from marketing in Palm has done the MS DOS versus Windows (single versus multi tasking) line yet.

Paul Mooney, 2009-06-11

Find My iPhone seems to use the network connection opens for Notification to request the current location of the phone.
If you disable notification on your phone, Find my iPhone doesn't work.

Gaston Annebicque, 2009-06-11

Hmm, limited background apps, or (half) decent battery life? That’s the trade-off.

When the original iPhone came out I heard bad things about power consumption on the device, but I’ve heard even worse things about the battery on the Palm pre and the current Android handsets.

I’m quite impressed that Apple haven’t taken the easy route, and are trying something else with the push notification / quick application switching model instead… but who knows whether this will pan out for them—it’s clear that they’re still working it all out. For example:

Apple invites iPhone devs to test AIM/push notification.

Ben Poole, 2009-06-11

With push notification, background apps just run on a server instead of the iPhone. Makes sense for applications like AIM. Not so much for an alarm clock.

Timo Stamm, 2009-06-11

The alarm clock is one of those apps, that do run in the background. iPhone can run stuff in the background, Apple just does not let other developers do it.

Volker Weber, 2009-06-11

Apples notifications notify the user, not apps. So the 3rd party apps are never started, which might be a good thing for the battery life, but for some applications just doesn't work.

I used to use byline on the iPhone to download my Google Reader news. I was opening the app a couple of times a day to make it download the most recent news and then I couldn't do anything else on the phone, but waiting for the news to download (or read the already downloaded news). Because when leaving the app the downloading stopped too. You can't really put the phone away neither, as it auto-turns off after some time (*) and then the downloading stops too.

I remember very vividly that I hated the iPhone for making me work and involving me in its task scheduling.
I still like the media capabilities and the slickness of the iPhone better than Android, but for background tasks alone I would never go back. With Android I can pick up my phone and start reading news, with the iPhone I can start downloading them.

In terms of battery life ... ok, Android gets me working too. I am very disciplined of always connecting my phone to an USB outlet.

(*) Sure, this can be configured, but I don't want to change the timeout before every download and after that back to the settings I actually want to use for normal operations.

Mariano Kamp, 2009-06-12

Just found out that the new version of iGoogle shows up a read-only Version of Latitude inside the iPhone's (and Android's) browser: Screenshot

Stefan Domanske, 2009-06-12

Thanks Mariano, that’s interesting.

I have not decided between Android and the iPhone. Media is going to be very important to me (whatever I buy would replace an aged iPod as well as my phone), and whilst I like the Google software, the Android hardware released so far doesn’t do it for me (new Android handsets seem to be a long time coming too).

Ben Poole, 2009-06-12

Ben, according to Google we will at least have 16 android phones by the end of the year.

So with Android you will definitively see a broad range of devices.
But that is also true for PCs. You can buy computers that are cheaper, or more expensive, more colorful, with bigger screens, with smaller screens than what Apple offers. And still I only bought Apple computers over the last years (except one Netbook, which was a dud).

It is yet to be seen if this very open Android development model will yield something as tasteful as the Apple gear.
I was pleasantly surprised that HTC is offering their addition to the UI (Rosie) with the new HTC hero. Maybe it will get interesting.

Mariano Kamp, 2009-06-12

Volker: My point is that Apple does kind of allow background apps for 3rd parties, but they must be running on a server instead of the iPhone.

For applications like AIM, this is actually better than every app running a background task on the iPhone.

I am not arguing against 3rd party background apps on the iPhone. But a lot of the discussion is missing the fact that push notifications are perfectly suited to replace the need for 3rd party background tasks for many applications.

Timo Stamm, 2009-06-12

Interesting hint, Gaston! I always wondered how they realized the "Find my iPhone" Service.

Maybe Apple is going to open up that service to 3rd party service providers – like Google Latitude? Having the Browser open for using Google Latitude doesn’t seem to me as a viable solution anyway...

Thomas Witt, 2009-06-13

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