Taking a different approach to Google’s Latitude software, Yahoo has released a Facebook application called Friends on Fire that lets people share their location with each other.
Google Latitude is an island unto itself, using Google’s own technology for cell phone-based location detection and for managing who gets access to your location. Friends on Fire, though, stitches together a variety of services: Yahoo’s Fire Eagle, a service that can store and share your location with authorized applications, and Facebook, which handles the issue of identifying who your friends are and granting them permission to see your location. The service is intriguing, though as with any service that has to tiptoe carefully around a lot of privacy landmines, it can be somewhat burdensome to set up. It’s great that Yahoo is making something real out of its Fire Eagle service, which previously was more about plumbing than a faucet. Fire Eagle is an intermediary. It relies on other services to tell it where you are and on other services to do something useful with that location data; only services you specifically authorize may do anything at all with Fire Eagle. “There are services that are more immediate than Fire Eagle, but as we get more apps, the value of updating once and having it shared across all your services is more important,” said Fire Eagle leader Tom Coates in an interview just before he headed to the SXSW conference to announce the new technology.
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