Google Mobile Maps is getting a new feature tonight called Google Latitude. It will allow you to broadcast your location to select friends, family, and colleagues based on the coordinates of your cell phone (via GPS or otherwise). If you have the GPS feature enabled in Google Maps on your mobile phone, you are probably familiar with the reassuring, pulsating blue dot on the map that represents you wherever you go. Google Latttude is now essentially letting you share that blue dot with anyone you like.
But Google Latitude is a full mobile application in and of itself. (Download it from your mobile browser at google.com/latitude). You can keep track of where everyone is at any given time, and from within the app you can call, email, or IM them. Everyone you have opted to follow shows up as a picture icon on a map or in a list view. The list view is like a location-based Twitter.
Don’t feel like being tracked? Just hide yourself from select “friends,” or manually enter a false location as your current one. You can control how much privacy you want on a very granular, contact-by-contact level.
Latitude works out of the gate in 27 countries on Blackberries, Windows Mobile, and Nokia S60s. Android will begin rolling out over the next week, and an iPhone app is coming soon. In the U.S., there is also an iGoogle gadget that shows everyone’s location and messages.
In a sense, Latitude is a private version of Yahoo’s Fire Eagle geo-location service. There is no way to broadcast your location to the public at large, only to your own Gmail contacts. (It does not yet work with Google Friend Connect). Obviously, there would be privacy concerns with publicly sharing your location at all times, but it is already happening and public geo-broadcasting will only become more popular over time.