Home Google Announces Mobile Geolocation API for Gears

Google Announces Mobile Geolocation API for Gears

Google today announced a Geolocation API for Windows Mobile phones running Google Gears. The Geolocation API will allow developers to get location data based on the cell-ID of nearby cell towers or from built-in GPS systems. Soon, Google will also integrate data from nearby WiFi connections. For now, Gears only works with Firefox, IE, and IE Mobile and only on select Windows Mobile phones. There is no information available about when (or if) it will become available on other platforms, though Google’s Android will probably implement it as well.

Google had already made some location-aware features for some of its own mobile products available in June, and, at that time, promised to open this up to developers soon.

Windows Mobile Only and not a lot of GPS

Looking at the list of supported phones, it is noteworthy that very few of them can actually perform location detection via GPS, though the list of phones that can support detection via cell-ID is relatively large. Using cell-phone towers for location detection, however, can be highly inaccurate, especially in less populated areas. Within cities and most suburbs, though, it tends to work reasonably well. On the other hand, given that a lot of users are very concerned about the privacy implications of location-aware software, maybe having a system that is not 100% accurate might just diffuse some of these fears.

Google also announced two partners in the UK that have already implemented the Geolocation API into their products: the UK version of travel site lastminute.com and the social discovery tool rummble.com.

Fire Eagle

It’s important to point out that while this product seems similar to Yahoo’s FireEagle at first glance, Google’s product is really more basic, in that Yahoo not only provides the location API, but also wants to function as a central clearinghouse for location data and data exchange between different application.

Soon to be Ubiquitous

As we have pointed out before, we think that location-aware software is going to be one of the most interesting markets to watch in the near future and as as location-aware devices become more ubiquitous, we will hopefully see a lot of new and innovative services make use of them, as long as developers can assure users that they can mitigate the potential privacy implications of these apps.

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