Google has launched a new function for its Google Maps for Mobile app that allows you to share your location with friends and family. Update, 5 February 2009: Privacy lobby slams Google Latitude.

Once you've opted-in to Google Latitude, users can then invite friends and family to opt-in to the function too. When they accept, users are able to see their location, and vice versa. The add-on uses a mobile phone's GPS to pinpoint a contact's location. However Google does claim that the location won't be 100 percent accurate and, instead, "gives you a good idea of where your friends are at a given time".

Friends and family are displayed as icons on a map, and users simply click the icon to be taken through to a menu of options that allows them to call, text, IM or even email the selected contact. Latitude also provides directions to a contact's current location.

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Users can elect to hide their location from individual friends or the whole contact list at any time. Google has also ensured each users can adjust their privacy settings so they can share as much or as little about their location as they want.

"Fun aside, we recognise the sensitivity of location data, so we've built fine-grained privacy controls right into the application," Google said in a blog.

The add-on is compatible with a number of handsets including colour BlackBerry devices, handsets running Windows Mobile 5.0 and above as well as Nokia Ssmartphones. Google said it would also soon release the add-on for iPhones and the T-mobile G1. Google Latitude is also available as an add-on to iGoogle so users can track their friends from their PC.

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