Skyhook Wireless, the company that provides location services for a number of mobile apps, announced this morning that it would be integrating with MapQuest to provide a more accurate location for mobile app users. If you've ever tried to use something like Google Maps while navigating busy city streets, then you realize how important it is for your map to update quickly, lest you become lost in a maze of one-way streets and alleys.
Skyhook says that its methods for gathering location data provide just that - better data faster - and it will debut today with MapQuest's android app.
Remember all that hoopla over the past couple of weeks about how Apple has been collecting location data on your iPhone? Part of the reasoning was that the company was working on creating a crowdsourced database of cellular towers and Wi-Fi hotspots. Apple ditched Skyhook last summer, around the time iOS 4.0 came out and began collecting user location data.
Skyhook's "Core Engine" provides location by using a hybrid of data from Wi-Fi hotspots, cell towers and GPS. The idea is that when a GPS signal is weak or unavailable, the service can use other data to more accurately determine location. And when GPS data is available, the addition of other signals is used to again increase accuracy. At the same time, Skyhook promises to deliver increased battery life, by relying less on GPS alone.
Skyhook identifies a couple of instances where it says its "hybrid positioning algorithms" can improve the user's experience:
Frequent users of navigation apps on smartphones know the headaches of trying to start a trip from inside a parking garage, or of following a route through the urban canyons of New York City. Everyone has a story of the costly wrong turn made due to a lost GPS signal and delayed navigation. These issues are primarily a result of the limitations in relying on GPS satellites, also a handicap of many other navigation apps. By using Skyhook's unique combination of Wi-Fi signals and GPS, MapQuest avoids these common GPS headaches.
The company also offers a video demonstrating its proposed improved capabilities. Now, we're not saying we don't believe them at all, but we're hoping to see it in action soon enough.