UPDATE: Google has now officially announced the availability of the app. We’ve added Google’s video to the foot of this post. Original post follows:
Last week we reported that Google’s long-awaited official Latitude app for the iPhone was briefly available in Japan before mysteriously being pulled again.
Well, it’s back and available in the UK App Store. We’ve heard reports it’s available in the US too, although there’s been no official announcement from Google to herald its release as yet.
Latitude is Google’s friend-finding location service which is incredibly useful although the ability to see where your friends are in real time is a little disconcerting to some.
We’ve just downloaded the app and it works exactly as you’d expect. A friend list allows you to see when your friends last updated their locations, with options to adjust how specifically each friend can see your current location (best accuracy, city level or invisible), you can view contact details for your friends if they’re available, get directions to your friends’ last known locations and send them an email directly from the app too.
The map view allows you to move around the world, seeing where your friends were most recently seen by Latitude. When you exit the app for the first time a warning message alerts you to the fact that the app will continue to share your location in the background, with the option to turn this off if you prefer.
Latitude has been hard-baked into Android for some time, allowing users to share their locations in real time if they choose. Latitude for iPhone was originally promised back when the service launched in early 2009. However, as Cnet reports, Apple blocked the original plan for release to avoid confusion with Apple’s own Maps app. Apple has since become more relaxed about such matters and with background location sharing being made available in iOS4, the app is finally a viable proposition… assuming Google doesn’t pull it again.
You can get the app here.