Latitude seems to be very similar to Nokia Chat Contacts on Ovi, Nokia FriendView and BuddyCloud, amongst others. The big, big question in this space is 'which player will get mass market traction first?'
With Nokia not pushing FriendView very hard, my money's now on the big G, with Google Maps being one of the most downloaded pieces of mobile software in the world and with Latitude apparently being completely cross-platform, so Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry as well as S60. Plus any desktop browser in the world looking at Google Maps or iGoogle. And with iPhone coming soon, too, presumably in the next iPhone firmware update.
Some screens to illustrate how Google Latitude is set up on an S60 handset:
Latitude is the cornerstone of the new v3.0, I couldn't see much else that was new. And there's still no StreetView in the UK - I looked 8-)
Privacy is taken very seriously. Your location is only shared (to a degree you're happy with) with your stated friends and even then you can turn location sharing off if you change your mind.
Also notable is that you don't have to use GPS/cell tower location - you can also set your location manually. So if your boss thinks you're supposed to be in the office etc...... 8-)
Showing how friend location and status are reported. Note that Rafe now lives at Buckingham Palace! We wish him all the best...
And here's the high-res version of the official launch video on the cross-platform service, demonstrating how friends' location is actually viewed:
And here's the original commentary from Google.
Steve Litchfield, AAS, 9.40am, 4th Feb 2009