I didn’t plan to buy a smartphone, simply because I had no use for one. My work was online, so I traveled with my notebook computer at all times, and since I’m always connected, the inclination to surf the net using my phone was not too strong. But when I had to change my cellphone for various reasons, I decided to go with a HTC model that had a touch-sensitive screen because I loved the way it looked and because it seemed trendy. But because I had friends who were tech-savvy, I downloaded Google Maps and Latitude on my phone and stay connected at all times to my friends.
For those in the dark, Google offers a free GPS system – Latitude – that allows you to track your location and that of your friends, if they choose to share it with you. All you need is a Google account and a phone with a operating system that is compatible with Google Maps. It’s a great application to have if you travel frequently and need to know where you are, or if you like to stay connected to your friends at all times. In my case, it was my first journey into the world of mobile technology, and it did me a world of good.
For one, knowing where my friends were allowed me to time my calls to them without risking disturbing them when they were at work. But the most exciting part of Latitude was that I knew where I was at all times. In strange or unfamiliar cities, it was easy to pinpoint my location and find directions to anyplace I needed to go. I did not have to depend on anyone for directions or recommendations because Latitude even finds restaurants and other public facilities close to where you are. And since it was on my phone and completely free, I did not have to carry around a GPS unit or pay a service provider for allowing me to determine my location or find my way around.
Another great application of Latitude is that it helps you trace a lost phone – if you misplace your mobile and Latitude is enabled and running in the background, you could ask friends who are on your list to find the location of your phone; if you’ve dropped it somewhere, you could go back and get it, and if it’s been stolen and the thief does not realize that Latitude is on, you could trace their location and recover your phone.
On the negative side of the spectrum however, there are privacy issues involved because you don’t want people to know where you are at all times, even if they’re your close friends. You can turn off Latitude when not needed, or if you do need it for your own use, you have the option of giving your friends only your city-level information or manually entering your location so that they don’t know where you really are. Yes, there is potential for misuse, but then, that’s the downside of any kind of technology – unless harnessed wisely and ethically, things could go horribly wrong.
This guest post is contributed by Barbara Williams, she writes on the topic of Becoming a Computer Technician. Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org .