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I’ve been using Google Latitude with some friends and family ever since it was released last week for the iPhone. I noticed that it used very little battery on my phone, which made me wonder how frequently it actually sends updates. To get this information I went ahead and enabled the history functionality that keeps a log of all the coordinates that your device has sent.

I found that if I was relatively stationary for a period of time, such as being at home, that no updates would be sent to Google. In that respect it is pretty smart. That got me curious as to the logic that Latitude uses on my iPhone to determine when to send updates. After a little searching around I came across this article that explains the update interval for the different platforms. Interestingly enough Latitude takes into account how fast your moving, how much battery life is left, and whether you’re switching between cell towers. Here’s a breakdown of how it works on your device:

Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian:

The background location update frequency isn’t a fixed amount of time. The update frequency is determined by several factors, such as how much battery life your phone has, if you are moving, or how fast you are moving. Background updating will only use cell ID or WiFi location detection depending on your device. GPS will not be used in the background to preserve battery life.

iOS-only (iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad):

Your location will only update in the background when you’re moving (exceptions: when you switch the app from foreground to background mode, or go from a “moving” to a “stationary” state, the app will continue to update your location for a few minutes).

The background location update frequency isn’t a fixed amount of time. The update frequency is determined by several factors, such as how much battery life your phone has, if you are moving, or how fast you are moving. Background updating will only use cell ID or WiFi location detection depending on your device. GPS will not be used in the background to preserve battery life.

There Are 3 Comments

  1. Thank you! I’ve been wondering how Latitude works.

  2. That would explain why Latitude works so poorly and updates so infrequently.

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