23 February 2012

Android Tips & Tricks: Creating a shortcut for Google Latitude Check-ins

For a while Google Maps for Android has had Google Latitude, a feature that allows you to share your location with friends and see where they are checked into. This feature is very similar to Foursquare's location check-in, but with a recent update, Google Maps for Android now has a leaderboard to compare the number of check-ins you've accumulated in the day to people in your Circles. Its a fun way to compete with others in your circles. However, one thing that is missing is the ability to have a shortcut to check-in from your Home screen. Though there is a widget that can allow you to check in, it takes up a fairly large amount of screen real estate. For those of us who don't wish to clutter our Home screen with the large 4x2 widget, there hasn't been a good solution - until now.

Using an Android feature called Intents, we can "jump" straight to the Check-in screen from our desktop, bypassing the need for loading up the Maps app and navigating to the Check-in screen or using the Latitude widget. However, these Intents are not for most users and require a little extra advanced tools to accomplish the task. There are two off-the-shelf tools that can help us accomplish this: Tasker and QCustomShortcut.
Tasker is an app for Android that allows you to define profiles that can automatically perform some actions on your device based on certain criteria. For example, with Tasker you can create a profile to put your phone into silent mode at work based on whether a calendar event is active and based on your location (as I have done). Tasker also allows you to execute sets of actions directly using shortcuts on your Home screen. I highly recommend this app!
QCustomShortcut is a free app for Android that allows you to define Home screen shortcuts to specific things on your device.

Tasker in
the Android Market
Using Tasker
To create a shortcut for Google Maps' Latitude Check-in, open Tasker and perform the following:
  1. Create a new Task called "Latitude Check-in".
  2. Add a new action - go to the Misc category and select "Action Intent."
  3. Enter the following into the fields:
    • Action: android.intent.action.VIEW
    • Cat: Default
    • Data: latitude://latitude/checkin
    • Target: Activity
  4.  Go to your Home screen.
  5. Long-press on an empty area (or select Menu > Add) and choose "Shortcuts"
  6. Select "Tasker Cut" and choose "Latitude Check-in"
Now, when you press the shortcut, the Maps application will launch and automatically take you to the Check-in screen.

QCustomShortcut in
the Android Market
Using QCustomShortcut
To create a shortcut for Google Maps' Latitude Check-in, perform the following:
  1. Launch the QCustomShortcut app from your App drawer.
  2. Enter the following information:
    • Shortcut name; "Latitude Check-in"
    • Action: android.intent.action.VIEW (you can enter this automagically by selecting it from the list when you click the ellipsis [...] button to the right of the field)
    • Data: latitude://latitude/checkin
    • Category: android.intent.category.DEFAULT (this is selectable from the browse list next to the field)
  3. Click on the "Create Shortcut" button at the bottom of the screen.
Now, when you press the shortcut on your Home screen, the Maps application will launch and automatically take you to the Check-in screen.


Dave said...

Is it possible to do the checkin directly to a known location ?

Tasker knows where I am for certain locations and I would love to have Tasker force the checkin, rather than waiting for Latitude, which only seems to auto checkin once in a blue moon!

Sean Payne said...

Good question! Latitude does run a background service that may be "forced" to update location and check-in to automatic check-in locations, but at the moment I'm not sure how to do that using Tasker. I will have to do some investigation.

Michael McCubbing said...

I've got the same question. That's actually what brought me to this page. Although Google's auto-check-in is reasonable there are times that I find it just doesn't have the accuracy that I need and a self-scripted solution could fix this quite handily.

Android Europe said...

The latest Maps update (September 2012) has removed the latitude shortcut. I want to create a tasker widget to invoke latitude without having to go through maps first, how can I restore this functionality to maps?

Anonymous said...

Created a short cut with atitude://latitude/ which takes mr to the map. What would I have to put to goto friend list?

Sean Payne said...

With the recent update to Maps, I had to recreate the shortcut through Tasker. After doing quite a bit of digging through the Maps app, I uncovered the following strings that you can put in the "Data" field when creating the Send Intent action in Tasker:

Bring up the list of places to checkin: "latitude://latitude/checkin"
Bring up the list of friends in Latitude: "latitude://latitude/list"
Display your location history: "latitude://latitude/location-history"
Display a list of your places: "latitude://latitude/manage-places"

I found some other actions, but I haven't been able to get them working:

Hope this helps!

Steven Kleynenberg said...

I have put two apps in Google Play to alleviate this problem:




Jessee Boullion said...

Much appreciated!

Sandra Kelley said...

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