Google Maps' new Latitude feature allows you to track your friends using GPS-equipped phones. Perfect for meeting for a drink. Also, as Garage419 found, perfect for a hi-tech race by train, plane and Dodge Challenger.
Taking a line out of the Top Gear playbook, a trio from G419 raced from Manhattan to the Capitol in Washington, D.C. via plane (a commuter jet to D.C.), train (local Amtrak) and automobile (Dodge Challenger). To keep things fair, the driver couldn't put gas in his car (he had to make his tank o' gas last) and the other two were forbidden from taking anything but public transit.
Here's the interesting part — they tracked their progress with Google's new Latitude feature on Google maps apps for both Blackberry and iPhone. By getting a quick view of each other on their mobile devices, all the competitors have a fair way of assuring someone isn't cheating as well as having a way to adjust their speed on-the-fly. For instance, at one point Matt in the Challenger notices J.F. in the plane closing in, so he estimates the distance and speeds up his drive — putting the Challenger's low fuel economy to the test.
The endpoint was the Grant Statue in front of the Capitol yet, hilariously, two of three got lost in front of it. Perhaps they could have used the mapping feature on Google Maps? We'll withhold the ending and just say it's close.
There are a lot of interesting ways to use this technology other than the way it was initially intended. It's great for racing, as seen in the video. It's also useful for a hi-tech game of car tag. Many businesses, like local delivery companies, use expensive tracking systems for following their employees. This system is free and works, though we wonder if some employees might not be tempted to turn on the "hide" feature.
Overall, the ability to track friends via mobile devices using something with the simple and straightforward Google Maps design opens up countless possibilities for communities, businesses and people with a lot of time on their hands.