So Google has announced a new service that effectively lets you track where your friends are at any time via Google Maps and mobile phones. Google Latitude is either a mobile real time social networking work of genius, or a big brother work of the devil depending upon your viewpoint. I would suggest that the latter is, perhaps, a little on the paranoid side seeing as it allows you at all times to maintain complete control over your privacy. It is not in the same privacy ballpark as the whole Phorm controversy.

It's a cool idea which can work from both your mobile and your PC, as long as you and your friends agree to the tracking process. I like the privacy menu which allows you to share or hide your location as you wish, and configure the granularity of the tracking so you can, for example, just share a city-level location with certain friends. I also like the ability to share status messages and photos, contact your contacts via SMS, IM or voice and even get satnav style directions to their locations.

Best of all, so Google promises, all of this is coming soon to the iPhone and iTouch soon, at least for US users via the Google Mobile App. Of course, Google does not quantify what 'coming soon' actually means, but I doubt it will be too long before God Phone users can join Androids and others in the people tracking fun business.

Now I wonder when the first mashup will arrive to allow you track people while swimming courtesy of Google Ocean?