Google just resurrected a feature it killed off four years ago

Hot on the heels of allowing Maps users to pinpoint exactly where they parked their car, Google has announced plans to update the app yet again. The new feature will allow Google Maps users to share their location with friends, making meeting up that bit easier. Or at least meaning you can prove that “I’m just around the corner” actually means “I overslept”.

It will only share location information with people you select across Android, iOS and desktop, and only temporarily. If you happen to be using Google Maps’ driving directions at the time, you can even share the route you’re taking and your ETA. Speaking of ETAs, the update currently doesn’t have one, other than “soon”, so best avoid asking Google how soon too often, or they’ll likely threaten to turn the car around and cancel the update altogether.

But wait, doesn’t this update sound a little familiar? Yes, yes it does. Remember Google Latitude? Let me refresh your memory from Google’s 2009 blog post (on Blogspot!) announcing it:

“Latitude is a new feature of Google Maps for mobile, as well as an iGoogle gadget, that allows you to share your location with your friends and to see their approximate locations, if they choose to share them with you.”

Aside from the mobile platforms supported (Latitude was available for “Android, Blackberry, Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile” with hopes of iPhone following “soon”), that sounds the same, right? And yet Latitude was discontinued in 2013. Some suggested that was to push Google Plus’ location-sharing features, and it’s fair to say that didn’t catch on quite as well as the company hoped.

The only real question is why has it taken so long to return? Perhaps it’s just long enough for people to forget, and assume this is another example of Google innovation rather than reheating a forgotten feature in the microwave for a new generation of phone users.

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