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Show your friends exactly where you are

Wondering where your friends actually live? Now you can see their exact position, using Google Latitude.

The service, which Google is now starting to market in Sweden, can be used in two ways: If you install Google Latitude in your mobile phone, the program automatically finds out where you are. This is done using the mobile phone network’s transmitter. The system simply sees which antennas are closest to you, and calculates your position based on this.

The position is displayed on a map, so you can immediately see how well Google Latitude has succeeded. You can’t count on an absolutely exact position. When PC for All was tested, for example, our editorial office was moved a few streets away. However, the margin of error was impressively small.

In order for you to be able to use Google Latitude, you must have a reasonably modern mobile phone. It works, for example, with most phones running Windows Mobile or Symbian S60.

If you don’t want to use the mobile phone, you can just install Google Latitude on the computer. The system can then detect where you are with the help of Google’s database of so-called Wi-Fi positions. Even this gives an approximate location, and the system so far does not work perfectly.

The idea behind Google Latitude is, of course, both that you should be able to find your friends. So you can turn on the mobile phone and see if someone you know is nearby. And when you chat with the chat program Google Talk, you can see where your friends are. And in the long term, a large number of services will be developed to let you find everything from restaurants and sights to the right bus routes based on your position.

Of course, the positioning service can be turned off – if you don’t want to reveal your location.

To get started with Google Latitude, go to www.google.se/latitude with the browser. Here you can select “Add Google Latitude to iGoogle” to run it via the computer. If you want to use the service on your mobile, enter your mobile number instead and click on “Send a link to my phone”. You will then receive a link via SMS, and by clicking on it you will install the program on your mobile phone.

Note that this requires your phone to connect to the internet. This costs money if you don’t have a mobile subscription that allows you to surf freely.

Read more at www.google.se/latitude.

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