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Google Latitude encourages users to check in at retail locations – News briefs

With the launch of Google Maps 5.1 for Android, consumers can share their current location with friends and family and connect it to a real place by checking in there using Google Latitude. 

Consumers can still use Latitude to automatically update and share their location, but check-ins now let them add context to the location such as captions to a photo. 

“For example, I live in San Francisco but often travel around the world,” said Joe LaPenna, software engineer on the Latitude team at Google, Mountain View, CA, in a blog post. “Until today, sharing my location let friends and family know if I was across the globe or in their neighborhood. 

“Now, check-ins let them see the cool restaurant I’m trying in Taipei or join me for a latte at the cafe nearby,” he said. 

Because consumers can use Latitude to automatically detect their location, Google has added a few features to checking in designed to make it easier. 

Users can turn on check-in notifications in Latitude’s settings and get a notification to check in at a nearby place once you arrive. 

Consumers can choose to automatically check in at specific places they designate, and they will be checked in when they are there. 

Once they leave, Latitude knows to automatically check them out of places so friends are not left guessing if they are still there. 

When friends check in at a place, users can go straight from their Latitude profile to its Place page to learn about it and open Google Maps Navigation for turn-by-turn directions to them. 

Latitude check-ins are built right into Google Maps and Place pages. 

“Checking in from Latitude is just one step in helping you connect the places you go with the people you care about,” Mr. LaPenna said. 

“We believe in letting you use or share your location however you like, and we’re working on making location and check-ins useful in more places—across Google and the Web,” he said. 

Wi-Fi grows to more than 50pc of mobile Web connections: Bango
Mobile analytics and payment company Bango Inc. reports that at the start of 2011 Wi-Fi accounts for more than 50 percent of mobile user connections to the Internet. 

These latest Wi-Fi stats announced by Bango follows a report they published in February 2010, which highlighted that at the time 23 percent of mobile Web site visits connected through Wi-Fi.  

Bango believes that growing consumption of streamed media is driving users to look for fast network connectivity from Wi-Fi, allied to greater certainty over data costs. 

The increased adoption of smartphone devices and the popularity of tablets are among the factors behind the surge in Wi-Fi usage. 

Bango measured different connection methods over the months of December 2010 and January 2011 using its mobile analytics technology.  This month-by-month analysis showed a sharp increase in the number of people connecting via Wi-Fi in January, which coincides with increased smartphone sales over the holiday period. 

Sage lets merchants accept payments via 400-plus mobile phones, tablets
Sage Payment Solutions’ Sage Mobile Payments product is designed to help small and midsized businesses process payments using mobile phones or tablets. 

The company is planning integration to a range of business management systems, and claims that it will not charge additional transaction fee surcharges.

The product comes bundled with a Sage merchant account to let SMBs to expand their payment options by accepting credit and debit cards on 400-plus types of mobile phones and computing devices such as tablets across all major wireless carriers.

The card reader, which attaches to a mobile device to enable payment processing, costs $31.

 The product works with Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Motorola’s Droid phones, and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, as well as many other mobile devices.

“Sage Payment Solutions views mobile payments as a business tool and as an extension of the office – it’s not a gadget that should cost a premium,” said Greg Hammermaster, president of Sage Payment Solutions, McLean, VA. “For that reason, Sage Mobile Payments does not add incremental processing or transaction fees just because it is a smartphone. 

“A number of mobile payments providers charge an extra 1 percent, plus 15 to 37 cents per transaction, which is premium of 60 percent or more,” he said. “A customer that processes $10,000 in credit card transactions would pay an extra $140 or more. 

“At Sage, we offer our mobile solution at a reasonable monthly fee to cover our incremental expenses—other than that, the mobile account is another point-of-purchase opportunity that helps our customers expand their selling opportunities.” 

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