This blog has been using Cristian Streng’s GMap-Track to drive the little tracking map in the top right corner of the page for some time now. I used to update it periodically via my GPS-enabled Nokia N95, until I lost that phone a few weeks ago. Updating wasn’t cheap either, as most of the time I was in a location that required roaming, and roaming data plans are still around $5 per megabyte out of Europe and the Middle East, which is highway robbery.
I considered switching to Google Latitude. Latitude does let me update my location manually via a web browser, if that is the cheaper option (or if my phone goes AWOL), but it doesn’t give me what I need in return: A public widget that I can embed on my website.
The solution: Asking Cristian if he could add the option to update GMap-Track via the browser. A few days later, that functionality is now in place, so I’ve re-enabled the location map on Ogle Earth. An added bonus: Unlike Latitude, GMap-Track can use the Google Earth web client plugin.
Letting your mobile phone update your location at all times can be useful among close-knit groups of trusted friends in urban settings looking for the next place to congregate. Google Latitude is perfect for that. But frequent travelers will mostly want to make periodic user-initiated updates from interesting places — a geographic version of the Facebook status update — and publish that information as a widget. And that is just what GMap-Track delivers.