Google Latitude contacts disappeared…now fixed

I’ve used Google Latitude for about four years now and have found the application really useful. For those of you who don’t know, Latitude is an app that you install on your smart phone (it supports Android, Blackberry or iOS) and it keeps track of your location. You can then use this information how you wish. You can share it with friends or family, so that they know where you are in real time, or just use it to maintain a history of where you’ve been. (I find it useful for expense claims when I can’t remember how many miles I’ve done or exactly which day I visited a particular client).


About 2 months ago my wife asked why I wasn’t showing up on her list of contacts on her iPhone. I had a look at my own iPhone and saw that I had “no contacts” either. I hadn’t made any changes to my privacy settings and thought it was curious that it affected both me and my wife on multiple devices. (Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs, multiple different browsers including Chrome) as well as on my iPad and iPhone. As a result of this, I suspected that the problem was with Google.

I tried deleting and adding my wife as a “Latitude contact”. Despite clicking on the invitations that we sent each other and accepting the request to share location information we never appeared in each others contact lists.

Searching for answers I found plenty of discussions on internet forums. Several people had reported that this was due to new privacy settings which coincided with a new release of Google Maps. The only solution seemed to be to log onto an android device and enable location sharing again.

But I  don’t have an Android tablet…..

As an application tester, I’m reasonably au fait with virtualisation, so I had a quick look around the internet and I found this website which contains OVA files with images of Android Tablet devices. These can be used to emulate an Android tablet.

Android tablet in VMWare Player
Android tablet in VMWare Player

These are the steps that I took to fix my problem

  • I already had VMWare Player on my home PC.
    (Download and install this if you don’t already have a copy)
  • Downloaded a suitable OVA file
  • Open it in VMWare Player, created a new virtual machine
  • Start the VM and “boot up” your Android tablet
  • Choose a country location and go through the basic setup
    (including typing in your google account credentials.)
  • Open the Google Play Store
  • Install Google Maps
  • Once Google Maps is installed, open maps and enable the “Latitude layer”
  • Enable location sharing

Google Maps

Google Maps”Hey presto” almost immediately all your devices will repopulate your friends lists and location sharing will work again.

Latitude screenshot
Latitude screenshot

It looks like the new version of Google Maps for Android has the functionality to enable sharing and accept invitations but this doesn’t work for existing, non-Android users, including those of us using iPhones.

If you’ve deleted friends whilst trying to fix the problem get your friends to send an invitation whilst you’re logged into your “new tablet” and you can accept the invitation and enable location sharing from within the Maps application.

Author: Richard Bishop

4 thoughts on “Google Latitude contacts disappeared…now fixed”

    1. Hi Wayne,
      Yes I read that news this morning. I’m not surprised really.

      It was obvious from complaints in discussion groups and the fact that bugs were left unfixed by Google for long periods that their development and support efforts were elsewhere.

      Hopefully the additional functionality in Google Maps tied to a Google+ account will make up for this loss. I’m still sorry to see it go.


      1. It wasn’t entirely retired. It was moved to Locations in the Google Plus app (only on phone). PC connectivity no longer exists. Still has bugs. My husband is the only one I share it with. Periodically it removes him from my shared contacts so I can’t see him (Android, Galaxy III). But when he checks his phone (also an Android, HTC One), it restores both of our connections. Not sure why. Think it’s either tied to app updates or something with his location sharing as he never seems to lose my connection.

        1. Thanks Erica,
          Yes, I found it again recently, not quite as useful as before but still there! I can’t quite work out why they dumbed it down.
          It would be great if they could restore it to its former glory.

          Here’s hoping………

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