How to Easily Install Google Latitude on Your Smartphone

Written by Felipe on July 27th, 2010

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11-10-13 Update: Sadly but true, Google has closed their doors on this app. As of August 9th, 2013 Google Latitude has been retired. Feel free to look around my website if you’re still looking for a good cell phone tracking app. There are many listed on my homepage that can be found by clicking here.


If you’re reading this article, you’re probably pretty anxious to get started tracking your cell phone with GPS technology. There’s really not much to installing the popular tracking program from Google. Before we start with the installation, let me tell you a little bit about this free cell phone tracker app.

In early 2009, Google launched a new Google locator for cell phones that works in conjunction with their already wildly successful Google Maps service. For some reason, Google seems to be fascinated with mapping. I think they see a market that the rest of the world hasn’t really noticed yet. The name of their groundbreaking service is Google Latitude.

When they initially unveiled the service, over a million people downloaded this cell phone tracker app in the first week alone. This impressive number of downloads is clearly an indication that Google is onto something huge here!

The thing I can’t figure out is what’s in it for Google? The app is free to download and the service is free to use. Perhaps they have something up their sleeves in terms of a way to make money from the millions of people who use this service? Maybe they plan to get everyone hooked on it and then start charging a fee to use it? I just don’t know but I do know that for now it’s still free and it works amazingly well.

Step Number One:

Now that you know a little about this GPS phone tracking program, let’s talk about getting it set up. The first thing you need to do is make sure that your phone will work with the service. The phones that are currently supported with Google Latitude are Android phones, iPhones, Windows Mobile phones, Symbian phones, and BlackBerry’s.

Once you have determined that your phone will in fact, work with Google Latitude, it’s time to install the app onto your phone. There are two ways to do that. The first way is to use your phone’s mobile browser to go to www.google.com/latitude and click on the link to download and install the Latitude app onto your phone.

The second way to install the app on your phone is to go to the Google Latitude website, enter your cell phone number in the box and click on the button that says “Send To Phone”. You will then get a text message on your phone with a link in it. Then, all you have to do is click on the link to download the software and install it on your cell phone.

This is also a great way to tell all your friends about this service. You can have this page send text messages to your friends phones that will contain a link for them to click on. The more friends you have that are using Latitude, the more useful the “social networking” aspect of this mobile tracker will be to you.

Step Number Two:

Now that you have Google’s cell phone tracker installed and running on your phone you’re ready to move on to the next step. For this step, you’ll need to sign up for a free Google Gmail account if you don’t already have one. If you already have a Gmail account you can obviously skip this step. You don’t need a new Gmail account just to be able to use Latitude.

The next thing you need to do is start the Google Latitude application on your cell phone. On my phone, which is an Android powered phone, I select Menu -> Join Latitude. This is where it will ask you to enter your Gmail information. Do that and you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Invite Some Friends

Google Latitude screenshotNow it’s time to collect some Google Latitude friends. If you click on the icon of a person with the “+” sign next to it, you will be presented with two options. The first is “Select From Contacts” and the second is “Add Via Email Address”. You can use which ever method appeals to you. It really doesn’t matter. All this step does is send a message to the person asking them if they would like to be on your Google Latitude friends list.

They need to have a Gmail account and have Latitude installed on their phone in order for you to be able to track them. Once they click “accept” to your friend request, you can begin tracking them and they can track you as well!

Things To Keep In Mind

Here’s a couple of things to keep in mind about this free cell phone tracker software. Google Latitude must be running on your phone in order for you to track someone or for someone to track you. Google designed the app to run silently in the background of your phone’s operating system and uses very little battery power. Don’t worry about it running your battery down. Just leave it running all the time. Make sure that anyone that you want to track knows that the application won’t work if they don’t keep Latitude running all the time.

Here’s a short video from Google on Google Latitude that you might enjoy watching.

Configuring Privacy Settings

There may be times when you don’t want just anyone to be able to use this app to track you down. Google Latitude makes it easy to customize privacy settings for occasions such as these. You can either set privacy settings for an individual friend or you can set privacy settings that will apply to all your friends.

Here are a list of settings that you can customize for individual friends with Latitude.

  • Dial Number – Use this one if you want to call your friend.
  • Send SMS/MMS – Use this one if you want to send your friend a text message.
  • Send Email – Use this one if you want to send your friend an email.
  • Directions – Use this one if you want Google Latitude to give you directions from where you are to your friend’s current location.
  • Hide From Friend – Use this one if you don’t want your friends to be able to locate you.
  • Share Only City Level Info – Use this one if you don’t want your friends to be able to know your exact location but you don’t mind them knowing if you are in the a particular city.
  • Remove – Use this one if you want to remove a friend from your friends list. If you choose this option, they won’t be able to track you but you won’t be able to track them either. The only way to be able to start tracking them again would be to friend request them again.

The next settings for this cell phone tracker that we will talk about are settings that apply to all of the people on your friends list.

  • Detect Your Location – Use this setting to have the software find you. The app usually finds you automatically but if for some reason, you’re not showing up on the map, try clicking on this first.
  • Set Your Location – Use this setting to manually enter your location if using the first option is not successful. Sometimes you might be in the basement of a building and Google Latitude will be unable to locate you but you still want your friends to know where you are.
  • Hide Your Location – Use this setting if you don’t want anyone on your friends list to be able to find you for a while.
  • Sign Out Of Latitude – Use this setting and no one will be able to track you but you won’t be able to track anyone else either.

Important Factor To Remember

One thing to keep in mind is to always remember to change the privacy settings back to normal if you just want to hide from people for the afternoon. If you don’t set them back and you want your friends to be able to find you, you’ll be out of luck and so will they. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you are using Google Latitude to keep track of your children’s location, you better have a good long talk with them about NOT setting their privacy settings so that you can’t find them. This is strictly forbidden in our home an it’s one of the fastest ways for my kids to have their mobile phones taken away from them.

Thanks for stopping by my website! If your family uses Sprint cell phones, you might be interested in reading my article about the Sprint Family Locator.

If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, you can read about a cool free cell phone tracker on my website called Find My iPhone.


I receive compensation as a result of endorsements, ads, or affiliate links on this website: Compensaton Disclosure