By Benedict Wee
Google has released Latitude -their location-based network- for the iPhone and iPod Touches. Unfortunately it's not a downloadable application you can get from the iTunes store but a web application which you will have to launch via the Safari web browser.
It doesn't really matter though, since you can't run applications in the background of your iPhone anyway (Apple doesn't allow it). That means you'll have to fire up the application every time you want to use it which in turn, makes it impossible to provide continuous background updates unlike BlackBerry, Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile enabled phones which can.
Installing the web app is easy. Just go to http://www.google.com/intl/en_nz/latitude/intro.html using Safari and create an icon by pressing the bookmarks button (the "+" sign).
If you're wondering why the application isn't native (downloadable from the iTunes store) or integrated to the maps application of your iPhone/iPod Touch, it is because Apple thought it might confuse users says a Google representative:
"We worked closely with Apple to bring Latitude to the iPhone in a way Apple thought would be best for iPhone users. After we developed a Latitude application for the iPhone, Apple requested we release Latitude as a web application in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone, which uses Google to serve maps titles."
I'm going to go out on a limb and say iPhone users are smarter than that and Apple is being kinda patronizing.