A funny thing happened last night as Google briefly launched the Google Latitude iPhone app in the Japanese App Store, only to quickly pull it back down. While the company hasn’t made any statements regarding the “blink and you missed it” accidental launch, it would seem that the new app is primed and ready for release at any second.

Google Latitude allows users to easy track one another by displaying the locations of friends and contacts on a map. This way, if a friend asks you to meet them at Starbucks for coffee, you can instantly see which cafe they’re sitting at and head directly there. The service continually updates so you can keep track of your friends and vice-versa, but sharing settings are heavily restricted and there’s an option to turn off tracking altogether if you’d rather go off the grid for a bit.

Latitude has sort of been available for the iPhone for well over a year, but not as a native app. Thus, it can’t run in the backgound on the iPhone and is ultimately rather pointless for most users. The app has been a longstanding feature of phones running on the Android operating system, but it just now seems that the app may be on the cusp of approval from Apple.

The two companies have been at odds with one another for a while since Apple originally saw Google as a threat to iPhone market dominance, but the two companies have been warming to each other recently and it seems they may be about to settle into a more friendly relationship. Last month Google Voice finally appeared on the App Store, so it seems Latitude is set to follow in its footsteps. Also, with the launch of Google eBooks earlier this week it seems the two rivals may have finally turned the corner. More than anyone else, this is a big win for consumers.

[via TechCrunch]