Last week saw Google launch two very social applications for mobile handsets. The first, Latitude, allows users to see where their friends are on a mobile map. The latest release, My Tracks, allows users to share where they have been.
Social implications of Google Latitude are obvious. The product sets the base for what could be an extensive geo-spatially aware mobile social network with the potential to deliver extremely targeted ads to users depending on their current location.
The latter application, MyTracks, does not have as far-reaching potential, though. However, it isÂ definitely highlighting what could become a pattern for forthcoming Google Mobile launches.
Outdoor sports enthusiasts such as bikers, skiers and runners should be particularly thrilled with the latest offering. The service, which works on Android powered phones such as T-Mobileâ€™s G1, keeps track of a userâ€™s path, by means of the mobile phone’s GPS.
It also provides details such as speed, elevation and distance covered. These details can then be downloaded to a spreadsheet using Google Docs or to Google Maps. Once that is done these details can be forwarded to friends through email or Twitter. The application is free to use.
Earlier, GPS devices required the user to plug in a separate device into the computer, install special; software and then transfer the track to the web by uploading it. All this cumbersome activity has been eliminated. Now, a user just needs to carry an Android phone when outdoors.
My Tracks will then offer details such as recording and visualising the track followed during any outdoor activities such as running, jogging, cycling and hiking. It will also give the total time taken, the average speed, distance covered, elevation and so on.
Users can forward these details to other members in their groups so that others can follow the same trail or avoid certain dangerous spots.
The potential for greatness definitely lies withing mobile social activity. If the user numbers are any indication, this is where the future of mobile might lie. And Google seems to be right on track to cash in on this growing market.