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7/24/2009
02:37 PM
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Google Releases Latitude For iPhone As Web App

The native Latitude application that Google developed for the iPhone has been shelved at Apple's request.

Five months after Google released Latitude, its Google Maps location-sharing service, for Android, BlackBerry, S60, and Windows Mobile devices, users of Apple's iPhone can now enjoy Google-flavored online location sharing.

Google on Thursday released Latitude as a Web application, which means that users must access the service using the iPhone's Safari Web brower rather than using a native iPhone application downloaded from the iTunes App Store.

Google said that it has developed a native Latitude application but "Apple requested we release Latitude as a Web application in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone, which uses Google to serve maps tiles."

The company declined to clarify whether its Latitude app was submitted to the iTunes App Store and rejected prior to discussions with Apple.

A consequence of Google's acceptance of Apple's purported request is that Latitude on the iPhone lacks the "shout out" messaging feature available to Android users.

Various online publications have pounced on Google's statement as a sign of increasing friction between Google and Apple, and have lambasted the Latitude Web app as "crippled."

Google, however, says that it is working to build Latitude into Apple's Maps application, which ships with every iPhone.

"We wanted to roll out Latitude to iPhone users as quickly as possible, and the best way to do this was to create a Web app," a company spokesperson sand in an e-mail. "We continue to work with Apple on building Latitude into the native Google Maps experience. However this is subject to Apple's timelines."

Thus, Google asserts that creating a Latitude Web app delivers the service to users faster than releasing a completed native Latitude app.

Even if Google's response happens to be a face-saving response to Apple's notoriously capricious App Store acceptance policy, there's a silver lining to settling on a Web app. In recent months, Google has been crowing that "the Web has won" and that the Web represents the software platform of the future.

By releasing Latitude as a Web app, Google gets to realize its vision of tomorrow today.

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