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Look out Loopt, Google Latitude. Here Comes Apple

It appears that Apple is prepping for a location-based, friend-finding service that would be similar to services offered by Loopt and Google Latitude. A look under the hood by Mac Rumors of the just-released iOS 4.3 shows settings for a feature called "Find My Friends," the publication reports.

There have been previous signs that Apple is interested in the geo-locational and mobile advertising market, most notably in March 2010 when Patently Apple unearthed a patent Apple filed for what appeared to be a social networking app using geo-locational capabilities. According to Patently Apple, the new communications based social networking application was called 'iGroups.'

It will be a new service that will work on the iPhone and likely work with MobileMe, it speculated - which coincidentally the Find My Friends setting on iOS 4.3 also uses.  It also appears that Apple's MobileMe service will provide some sort of "virtual GPS" capability to a user that doesn’t have GPS capability so he or she could be aware of the locations of others in the group, Patently Apple further said.

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