Google Maps For Android Adds Location History, Makes Using Latitude Seem Actually Worthwhile

Android: Google Maps rolled out some new features for its location-tracking Latitude app today, letting you view summaries of where you go and spend most of your time. It's pretty cool — so cool, they make us actually want to use Latitude.

Google's Latitude service has been around for awhile, but it's slowly gotten more and more useful over the years. For those of you that don't know, it's essentially an app that tracks where you go and keeps a (completely private) history of it. It also has a social network attached similar to Foursquare, that lets you "check in" at certain locations, share them with your friends, and even get alerts when you're near one of your Latitude-using friends.

What's cool about Latitude is that as it tracks where you go, it lets you see a history of where you've gone and what you've done. It'll also catch onto and show you trends, like how much time you spend at work, at home, and "out", as well as when you go on vacation. Today's Maps update for Android lets you view this dashboard on your phone, which is cool.

Adam jokingly (yet accurately) described it as "Rescuetime for your location" — you can tell when you've been burning too much midnight oil at work, or spending too much time out and about. Again, it isn't a new feature to Latitude, but we're pretty impressed by its mobile implementation. Of course, you'll have to have history enabled in Latitude's preferences for this to work.

Another great way this update improves Latitude is by letting you designate one of your check in spots as "home". Previously, it would try to judge which locations were your home and work by when you went there, which was a cool idea, but annoying if you, say, went to night school or if you work from home. When you're at home, just check in as normal, but choose "Check in at Home" as your location at the bottom of the list. Latitude will then note that that's where your home is, and adjust your data accordingly, which is helpful. Again, it's all opt-in, and your home location won't be shared with anyone else.

If you haven't started using Latitude yet, I recommend checking it out — I hate location-based social networks, and even I find this pretty impressive (probably because it has a lot of cool features separate from the "social" part). To do so, just open up the Maps app on your Android phone, hit the Menu button, and hit Join Latitude to activate it. You won't need to do anything else — it'll start collecting data for you and you'll start being able to use location history in about two weeks. If you're already using Latitude, you can access location history from Android's Latitude dashboard in the Maps app. Hit the link to read more about the update.

See your location history dashboard and more with Google Maps 5.3 for Android [Google Mobile Blog]


    Turning on Latitude made my battery run out in half a day rather than one and a half days.

      Do you leave GPS on? Latitude doesn't effect my battery at all. I never turn it off and I can get 1.5 days battery life. As stated, it's cool to have some personal stats on how you spend your time. When I was at uni it was quite funny to look back and see just how much time I spent at uni doing my thesis

        In Android 2.3 you can see when your phone is 'awake' vs 'screen on'. When running Latitude, the phone was awake every 10 minutes or so regardless of the screen being off.

        Disabling Latitude removed this issue and battery life returned to normal.

    Yeah but what USE is the information? I mean are we that disconnected that we don't know when we're spending a lot of time at work or school? I would have thought it would be obvious. And I still get nervous at having that information recorded on a device I personally own, let alone the cloud (and I really hope I don't get the "if you have nothing to hide, what's the problem?" comments from people that don't understand privacy at all).

    I do, and will, trust data to Google and the cloud when the usefulness outweighs the privacy concerns. Constant location based tracking just isn't in that category yet for me.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now