Location-based services are very popular right now, and, even as all the focus is on Foursquare and its competitors like Gowalla, Google’s Latitude service is actually a serious contender. With three million users
, it’s the most popular location-based service out there and those users are now getting an interesting new feature. With the Google Latitude Location History Dashboard, users will be able to view all manner of trends, stats and interesting locations, based on their travels.
“Today we’re launching an experimental new view in Beta for Google Location History to visualize your location history in a different -- and hopefully more interesting -- way than just a string of locations,” Andrew Kirmse and Kenny Leftin, software engineers in the Google Mobile Team, wrote
“If you’ve already chosen to enable Location History, the new dashboard view will try to highlight interesting trends from your existing location history, such as trips you’ve taken, places you’ve visited, time spent at home vs. out, and more,” they added.
The reason why Google can introduce features like this and the main difference between Latitude and Foursquare and its brethren is that Google’s service works in the background all the time. It logs your every location and stores it for later use. You don’t have to manually ‘check in’ at a location in Latitude, which is a great advantage and disadvantage at the same time, depending on how you look at it. It’s not going to engage users as much as ‘check-in’ location services, but it’s also going to get a lot more data.
And with more data come better statistics, which is what the new dashboard relies on. If you have Location History enabled and enough data for it to work, the dashboard will highlight some of the more interesting locations you’ve been to in the recent past. It will also show how much time you spend at work versus home. You will even be able to see how many miles you’ve traveled so far and how close will that get you to the Moon.
With privacy having been a big issue of late, Google reassures its users that all this data is theirs and theirs alone. It can only be viewed by the user and is not shared with anyone. Of course, Location History, the feature that keeps track of the places you’ve been to, is completely opt-in. And, finally, you can delete any of the places in the history if you so desire.