Google Latitude for iPhone... a WebApp?!

Google Latitude WebApp

Techcrunch reports that during Google's I/O developers conference they showed off the iPhone version of Latitude -- which lets users stalk keep track of their friends via GPS and other location-based services -- but not as part of some revamped Map or Google Mobile application as many suspected:

Google has been waiting for the [iPhone] 3.0 software is because it’s not actually creating a native iPhone app for Latitude — as all other location-based services on the iPhone are — instead it’s using the Safari web browser to run Latitude. Thanks to HTML 5, Safari will be able to access a user’s location information and Latitude will be able to access that as well (provided the user gives permission). This will put it on par with what Google is doing in its browser for Android.

Now, Google has made arguably the best and most impressive catalog of WebApps seen on the iPhone to date, but why go that route with Latitude? And waiting for iPhone 3.0 to be released this summer, which also sounds strange given MobileSafari in 3.0 doesn't look to answer any of the persistent-connection problems Latitude faces on the iPhone platform (i.e. lack of background multi-tasking).

So, call us interested but not impressed... yet.

(Thanks antonioj for the tip!)

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Google Latitude for iPhone... a WebApp?!


Yes, Google can make some good web apps, emphasis on can. They had a great iGoogle, and then decided to ruin it on all mobile versions.

Me and my friend were talking about this on twitter yesterday after noon. I think they should make it a native app.

They should just make it part of the
I don't see a difirent app just for Google Street View -.-"

Apple's not gonna waste time trying to add a feature that's not gonna work properly when they have tons of other features to add

Since Mobile Safari supports at least a subset of HTML 5, has anybody with a 3.0 beta hit sites making use of the video or audio tags? I see reports around the web that such support may be included, though nothing recent. Sample youtube demo page:

Above link works in 3.0 as best as I can tell. Don't really know what functionality you want tested.
In 3.0 safari can run in the background. At least I know I can dl something close safari come back and it will be done dling. Maybe this is googles way of getting around not being able to background a native latitude app allowing them to update on the fly. But maybe I am mistaken about the whole situation.

Thanks for checking. I was curious about how Mobile Safari handles that tag. Does it play the video in the browser, directly? Does it kick off, either immediately or on a touch, to the YouTube or IPod apps to play the video? Does it simply ignore/not support it?
Back to Latitude, background downloading still proceeds, but does the javascript engine continue to run, or is it suspended? The former would likely be required for a Google Latitude webapp to be worthwhile, but I could see also how that could possibly bog things down.

Whoops...html tags are not allowed...take 2, with HTML entities. That should say:
"I was curious how Mobile Safari handles that tag"

"Now, Google has made arguably the best and most impressive catalog of WebApps seen on the iPhone to date, but why go that route with Latitude?"
because safari can run in the background.

I don't think safari runs in the background because if you load a page partially and exit , thn open the app again ... The page doesn't load up.
Also , after a while , when you return to safari , the page you loaded 20 mins ago has to reload.
So I don't Think safari runs in the background.