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GPS obsessed

1 November 2012

Firefox 3.1 Beta 1’s Geolocation Info IS NOT Provided By Skyhook’s Loki

So I’m sitting here currently playing around with the first beta release of Firefox 3.1, of course mainly focusing on the geolocation functionality.  First a few things I should mention:

  1. Earlier today when I wrote about the release I assumed that your location information was deduced using Skyhook’s Loki service like Geode.  I was wrong.  Right now the 3.1 beta has no back-end providers of location information.  You’ll have to download the Geolocation 0.4.1 add-on, written by Doug Turner, which will help you find your latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates and add them.  Then anytime you access a website that uses your location info like’s Radar news service you’ll be asked if it’s okay to use the coordinates.  As Christopher Blizzard says, “We will include the hooks for people to add this information and the web api is always there, ready to be used by any back-end provider that someone adds.  But we didn’t include any back-ends in the beta.”
  2. You can still use Geode with the stable Firefox 3.0.3 among other location add-ons.
  3. Mozilla still does not know if later Firefox 3.1 releases will include built-in backend location provisions.  They may not include anything other than location add-on support.
  4. For the privacy freaks out there: like I mentioned above, even if you do currently use the Geolocation plug-in with Firefox 3.1 beta 1, you’re asked each and every time if you want to provide that information and have the options of providing your exact location, your general location within a mile, or declining to provide it at all.
  5. Providing your general location, or fuzzing your location, using the Geolocation plug-in is a work in progress that should be resolved soon.  Right now it doesn’t work too well.  I’m currently in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and when I fuzzed my location the plug-in found me in the ocean just south of Ghana in Africa.  That’s a little too fuzzed to be anything close to useful.

Okay, now that we’ve resolved some of the confusion, I recommend that anyone still a little confused check out Aza Raskin’s take on the subject.  Why?  Because he’s much more intelligent than me and also the Head of User Experience for Mozilla Labs.  In short, he knows everything you need to know about the geolocation functionality of the new Firefox 3.1 beta and how it’s different from Geode. He also provides this graphic which sums up everything I’ve just said without the needless rambling.  Hopefully he doesn’t mind that I borrowed it:

Anyhow, hope that clarifies things a bit.  I’m off to play.

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