Google Latitude and the Great Services Massacre (plus how to get your Latitude History out)

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Look, they're dropping like flies!Today (well, not really, I’ve been procrastinating this), Google announced surreptitiously that a long-beloved service, Latitude, was getting an axe to the head:

Earlier today, we announced that Google Latitude is no longer part of the Google Maps app, and we’re retiring Latitude on August 9, 2013.

We understand some of you still want to see your friends and family on a map, which is why we’ve added location sharing to Google+ for Android (coming soon to iOS).

GOOGLE.  SOME PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO USE GOOGLE+.  EVER.  STOP FORCING THEM TO.  Honestly, it’s frustrating to see Google beheading so many great services, like Reader, Latitude, Anonymous Android App Reviews, etc, etc.

What gets me is that:

  1. I love Metadata
  2. Some of the people in my life are very unreliable about accurately describing their current location

First, I’ve been using Latitude to keep a rough record of my travels since 2011, as, perhaps, many others.  Aaaaand now it’s gone.   Second, I’ve got undisclosed people in my life who can’t be trusted to show up to things on time, and it’s been EXTREMELY useful to be able to pull up Latitude and decide it’s going to take them another hour to arrive rather than aimlessly waiting around.  Whatever.

I guess the sum total of this experience is to dissuade me from using new Google products, because I can’t reliably predict when they are going to randomly disappear.  Or maybe it’s an insidious plot by Google to make me so annoyed that I beg them to let me pay them a tiny monthly fee for services I find useful.  FINE GOOGLE, I’LL PAY!  JUST STOP RANDOMLY KILLING SERVICES!!!

I guess if you’re running a startup and Google takes aim at your niche, all you have to do is just hold out for couple of years, because eventually the Mighty Google will tire of playing your game and leave any poached users stranded and begging to come back to you.  In fact, that’s a great business plan.

Anyway, Google pretends like it’s a simple matter to just export your Location History out of Latitude before it’s shut down forever.  Great!  I would expect a wonderfully portable format from the Data Liberation Front, right?  Done.  Wow, what’s in this highly nested zip file?  KML?  GPX?  latitude.json.  OK.  Off to the old notepad.

"data" : {
"items" : [ {
"kind" : "latitude#location",
"timestampMs" : "1373232661783",
"latitude" : 40.249545 ,
"longitude" : -111.649396,
"accuracy" : 40
}, {
"kind" : "latitude#location",
"timestampMs" : "1373231686293",
"latitude" : 40.249545 ,
"longitude" : -111.649396,
"accuracy" : 36

Crap.   Google, you suck.

For you non-programmers out there, Good luck loading THAT into any mapping software.  Ever.

Luckily, in the Chronicles there’s an answer:!topic/maps/XVvc-SoiN3Y

Some of the suggestions there didn’t work:

No start or end time provided

But after a little url fiddling, this url will export the last 6 months of your Latitude history from 2012:


From there, simply replace by 6 month increments until you have your entire history exported to convenient, portable (sort of), standard KML!  The downside is that you have to do it in 6-month increments, but, hey, it’s better than writing a parser for Google’s googly JSON format!

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