When Google first launched its location-sharing service, Latitude, developers were left wondering how to access their users’ data. Now, over a year later, we finally have a Latitude API. But we also have a number of other similar services that have better traction and are arguably more fully featured.
FourSquare and Gowalla have both become popular because of the experience they provide as users share their location. And each has an API, which lets developers access the location data below. And it’s the data that’s interesting–more users, more data.
Still, there are a few reasons I believe Google brings more than a me-too service to location-sharing:
The API requires authentication for all commands, using OAuth. From there, applications can both read and write to the API, meaning developers could create a Latitude client and Latitude could be incorporated into apps like Check.in. A history of a user’s location is also available, but only if the user has enabled the feature. Check our Google Latitude API profile for more.
While the API does not provide friend locations, Latitude has that data. The platform was released as a Labs project, so expect this and many other features added as developers provide feedback to Google.