Google’s Latitude application for sharing your location has come to the iPhone and iPod Touch. In announcing the release yesterday in a blog post, Google explained why it chose to distribute the application via Apple’s Safari browser rather than the App Store.
It isn’t all that clear Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) preferred forgoing making it a native app via the App Store. In the blog post, Google said that after developing Latitude for the iPhone, “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.”
On the other hand, Google has been pushing the idea of browser-based applications, which it sees as the future of mobile app delivery, much more so than the App Store model.
A hybrid distribution strategy
“In the future, we will continue to work closely with Apple to deliver useful applications — some of which will be native apps on the iPhone, such as Earth and YouTube, and some of which will be Web apps like Gmail and Latitude,” said Mat Balez, a product manager on Google’s mobile team, in the blog.
Balez said he’s “a big fan of the iPhone” and “excited” about Latitude’s release on the popular device, but users may be disappointed to find it doesn’t have all the features of the versions on other mobile platforms.
Since Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) still hasn’t implemented a way for applications to run in the background on the iPhone, Google Latitude for iPhone does not include the continuous background location updates, which is a standard feature on the Android, Blackberry, Symbian and Windows Mobile versions.
The iPhone version, for OS 3.0 or higher, does include the core functionality of Latitude, which allows you to see the location of your friends on a map. You can also modify your privacy settings to control how your location is shared and with whom. It also includes basic Search and Directions functionality.