Google recently flipped the switch on a new service called Latitude; which takes Twitter-like status updates and mashes it up realtime location data. The premise is Latitude will let you share your location and see where your “friends” are anywhere on a map.
It’s pretty easy too. Using your mobile browser (Android, Blackberry, Symbian S60, and Windows Mobile handsets are currently supported – iPhone coming soon) visit google.com/latitude and ping the service with your location. You’ve then just broadcast that location to all of your contacts (those you’ve opted-in, of course).
Google Talk is integrated with Latitude, so you and your friends can update your status messages and profile photos on the go and see what everyone is up to. You can also call, SMS, IM, or email each other within the app.
There are a number of other location-based social network platforms out there (Loopt springs to mind) but Latitude is the first that I am aware of that also brings a desktop component to it. Adding the Latitude gadget to your iGoogle page lets you see at a glance, from your desk, exactly where everyone is.
This is where the potential for real estate search gets really interesting. Imagine the ability to get real time updates from your clients as they are conducting a home search. Alternatively, as a home buyer, you could location-tag properties with “search update” and view them all collectively once you return to your computer.
Location awareness is a growing trend that we’ve seen in closed ecosystems like the iPhone so far, but that we’re starting to see go cross platform. I suspect we’ll be seeing much more in this arena soon.