Location recording Big-brother style

A few weeks ago there was a lot of noise on the news about how different providers were handling the location information obtained from smartphone users. I had a look at what was available (user level) on the Android platform. Latitude is a software from Google that allows you several types of location information storage and processing that can be fun, scary or terrifying depending on how you think about it.

Most of the recording is disabled by default (at least this is what we are told) so you do not have to worry. Whether some recording is done on the provider's side or not I do not know. We all know, however, that cellphone carriers do collect location information of all their customer's cellphones.

What Latitude offers you is the possibility of using your smartphone location capabilities (GPS+GSM+wifi based) to provide updates to your Google account so you can:
  1. Check your (cellphone) location anytime on Google Maps.
  2. Check the location of other users that willingly share it with you. You can track your kids, employees, work mates, etc.
  3. Get a report of your total traveled miles in the last month, week, etc. With details of all the different locations you've been to.
  4. Get a detailed usage of your time: hours at home, at work, on the road, etc.
  5. Get recorded data in KML format (XML based).
There is an API to enable the creation of applications that use this information for new purposes too.

I can think in multiple useful uses of this service and of some not so nice ones too.

Next time you're telling your husband you are at a meeting in the office, think it twice :-)


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