Google Latitude takes on Foursquare

Arrived at the coffee shop to meet your pal? Well, before you say hello be sure to get out your mobile and check-in to Foursquare, Facebook Places, Gowalla and now....Google Latitude.

Yep, the Big G has announced the latest social-network check-in option, courtesy of its location-aware app Latitude.

Launching with Google Maps 5.1 for Android, latituders will be able to connect their geo-location to a real place and add details such as captions and photos.

You can have the app remind you to check in with notifications, or select to check-in (and out) automatically. It also integrates with the Google Place details so, for example, if you check-in at a restaurant you can easily see reviews.

And in a very Foursquare-esque move you can also check in at a regular place to earn a special status such as "Regular", "VIP" or "Guru".

Google has also announced that Google Hotpot is expanding, with the local recommendation engine taking a more prominent position with your Google search results.

A post on the Google Blog explains the new service:

"You can now enjoy Hotpot recommendations in your regular search results on Google.com. So say you’re looking for a restaurant in Barcelona. Go to Google and search [restaurant barcelona]. If a friend has rated a particular restaurant, you might see their rating and what they had to say about it - as well as their name and photo - directly beneath that restaurant’s listing."

Google Maps 5.1 is in the Android Market now (you'll need Android 1.6+).