Location-based web services are all the rage right now with Foursquare stealing all the thunder. There are plenty of competitors each vying for a place, but one that everyone seems to be forgetting is Google Latitude. The location service has been around for a while now, but it didn’t seem like it proved much of a success. So Google decided to share some stats about Latitude, namely that it has over three million people using it, as revealed by Steve Lee, Google’s head of mobile geolocation, at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.
That’s three times more than Foursquare and Latitude is growing at a huge pace, by 30 percent per month every month of 2010. Foursquare has been growing solidly as well, but if the trend continues it will have a tough time catching up to Latitude. The Google location service’s growth has been undoubtedly spurred by the rising popularity of all location-based products. The steady growth of the Android mobile platform must have helped too. In fact, over ten percent of Android users also employ Latitude, Google says.
Of course, Foursquare versus Latitude isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. The major difference is in the approach they take to check-ins. Whereas Foursquare asks you to actively add any location you want to share, Latitude does this automatically, behind the scene. This means that the Google service will have a much wider data set and a lot more locations covered, but it also means that engagement with the product isn’t as high as with Foursquare or other similar services.
This is why Google is thinking about adding manual check-ins in the future. These won’t replace the automatic system as Latitude will work with both of them in tandem. There’s another feature that sets Latitude apart, one that a lot of users seem to be enjoying. Latitude enables you to keep accurate records of your whereabouts without actually sharing them with anyone. In fact, 25 percent of Latitude users have no friends on the service and utilize the location history tool. With so many using it, it’s no wonder that Google plans to introduce a revamped history tool in the coming weeks.