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After briefly appearing last week, Google’s official Latitude iPhone app is now live on the App Store, the company announced this morning.

Google launched Latitude in early 2009 as a way to easily keep track of your friends’ locations in real-time. Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian users have been able to take advantage of the service for some time with background updating, which automatically updates their Latitude location. Now with an official app, combined with background GPS updating features in iPhone OS 4, iPhone users, too, will be able to take advantage of all Latitude has to offer.

Apple blocked Google’s first attempt at releasing a Latitude app last year (Google said Apple was worried users would confuse it with the Maps app), so Google released a Latitude web app that let users manually update their locations. Being a web app, it couldn’t offer the convenient background updating feature found on other platforms.

Latitude is the second rejected Google service to get an official iPhone app in the past month. Apple finally approved an official Google Voice app last month, after similarly rejecting it last year. Google also went the web app route with Voice after Apple’s rejection, but just like Latitude, it was no replacement for a native app. Apple’s change of heart can be traced back to its relaxed iPhone app rules announced in September.

I’ve only had a short while to dig into the Latitude app, but it seems pretty straightforward. You can view a map of all of your friends’ locations, change privacy settings and invite more friends to Latitude. The background location updating seems to work just fine, and it can also be turned off easily. Now that Latitude is fully functional on the iPhone, I’ll definitely be inviting more friends (who don’t mind being stalked) to use the service.

Google says that there are over 9 million Latitude users on other mobile platforms. I expect that number to explode now that iPhone users can take full advantage of it.

The Latitude app requires iPhone OS 4 and is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad and the 3rd/4th generation iPod Touch. You can view a video demonstration of the app below:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfKChchmv5A&w=629&h=380]

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