Home Google Chrome Becomes Location Aware

Google Chrome Becomes Location Aware

Google just launched the latest developer version of Chrome, which now includes preliminary support for Google’s the W3C’s geolocation API. Google’s Geolocation API allows developers to pinpoint your computer’s location by looking at the WiFi networks around you, similar to SkyHook‘s technology that is part of Apple’s OSX and iPhone OS. For now, this new feature is still hidden behind a command line toggle and only available in the developer builds for Windows and OSX Leopard (it doesn’t work on Snow Leopard yet).

To enable these built-in geolocation features, you have to run the browser with “–enable-geolocation.” It’s typical for Google to first hide these features behind a command line toggle before exposing them to a wider group of testers. The Chrome team also notes that the geolocation UI is still incomplete and that Chrome will forget the permissions you set.

Preparing for Chrome OS?

It makes sense for Google to enable geolocation for Chrome, especially given the impending release of the Chrome OS, which will also benefit from these new features. Mozilla already offers a built-in location API for Firefox and with Geosense for Windows, Windows 7 developers can now also make use of Google’s Geolocation API in their native apps.

Location for Every Browser

Thanks to the current efforts by most browser developers, location APIs will soon become ubiquitous and hopefully more developers will make use of them. While a number of mobile apps for the iPhone, for example, now make use of the location feature in the mobile version of Safari, only a small number of browser-based apps are currently aware of your location. While using WiFi location isn’t quite as precise as using a GPS, the precision is usually much better than relying on a user’s IP address.

For more of our thoughts about location as a platform, also have a look at this post: The Era of Location-as-Platform Has Arrived.

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