I was pretty psyched back in August when the Google Gears Geolocation API was launched, at the time aimed at Windows Mobile browsers, enabling a location-fix so contextually relevant information could be delivered to you. The first release could either use your mobile’s GPS or cell tower triangulation to find your location, and was further enhanced last month with Search with My Location providing locally relevant search results without having to manually input your whereabouts.
Things just got a helluva lot more exciting though. The Geolocation API has been further advanced so it can find your location within 200 meters in desktop browsers, with Wi-Fi location so you can also implement on your laptop. It works with all of the major desktop browsers including Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and in the near future Opera. Google says that once Firefox 3.1 is released it’ll have the API built-in, which makes me wonder if Firefox has decided to use the Geolocation API from Google as their back-end location provider.
This doesn’t make sense to me though, as the Firefox 3.1 beta 1 just released, doesn’t even have Mozilla’s Geode functionality built-in. The company isn’t even sure if it will build location awareness into 3.1 or just provide support for W3C’s Geolocation API specifications via add-on’s.
Even if it’s not built-in directly, there’ll be a plug-in, something that’ll be required for all browsers except Chrome and Android .
For privacy reasons, the Gears Location API server doesn’t record your location, but if you allow third-party sites to access that data (and you can opt-on or out everytime) than they likely will. So be careful is privacy is a concern for you.
It’s interesting though that Geode finds my location to within a few meters. If you look at my location as determined by Geode on Google’s satellite map view you’ll actually see the roof of the apartment building I live in. Users that have tested the new Google Geolocation API have commonly said that it regularly misses them by 24-25 miles which can be useless when trying to deliver local or contextually relevant content.