Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Google Kills Latitude - Pushes Users To Google+ (Once again)

Let me start with the good news: there's a new Google Maps app for Android (soon to come to iOS), that brings the new design look (inspired by the one first used in the iOS app, and later transposed to the web), and that has lots of new features and is the "most amazing thing ever" (you know... the usual stuff). Although it also comes with some less than logical options: like the offline maps, which are now stored by entering "OK Maps" into the search box when you're looking at the area you're interested in (sure would like to know who came up with that "amazing" idea...)

But the thing that caught my attention is something far worse, that brings back recent bad memories we're still struggling to forget. Google is once again showing no mercy for its long time users, and this time it's Google Latitude that gets canned. In case you don't know the service, Google Latitude allowed you to share you location with friends in real time, so you could always see where they where (as well as keep a location history that allowed you to see where you were at any give date). It began as a separate "app", but had since evolved into being integrated in Google Maps (as it should)... until now.

From now on, Google says that if you want to share your location with friends, you'll have to use Google+ to do so... which is kind of absurd, considering you want to see them on a map; and that's exactly what Google Maps is there for! Worse of all, there's no way for you to export you Latitude friends, or easily migrate them to a Google+ circle (update: luckily there is a way to export your Latitude friends into Google+, although Google says otherwise!). Seems like Google is once again offering millions of users to their competitors...

With Google Reader's demise, millions flocked to alternative services like Feedly and Newsblur; now with Google Latitude going the same way, I wonder how many will simply opt to use Foursquare and Facebook for check-ins... for the sole reason of not using Google+ whenever Google says so.

I'm seriously being scared by the path Google is taking... and I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere along the way they decided to integrate Gmail into Google+. Thankfully, with each of these steps they're making, they're forcing people to look for alternatives and depend less and less on any single service/provider. And at least, that's a good thing.

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