Google Maps Knows Where You Are

By  |  Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Google Maps LogoOne of the nifty new features that debuted in Firefox 3.5 last week was support for the W3C Geolocation API Specification, a Web standard that can fake a GPS-like effect by using clues such as the Wi-Fi networks you’re near to figure out your location. The only problem was that the standard isn’t yet widely supported by the Web sites and services that could benefit from it.

Chicken, meet egg: Today, Google updated Google Maps to take advantage of Geolocation.  Click on a circle on a map, and Maps will do its best to determine where you are, saving you the time of typing in an address. (I almost never use hotel-room phones anymore, but still find them invaluable because they’re usually labeled with the hotel’s street address.)

The Geolocation API isn’t perfect–if it can’t use Wi-Fi to track you down, it’ll try using your IP address, which is always imprecise and sometimes just plain wrong. And it will sometimes just give up altogether. But I just tried it, and it figured out exactly where I am right now (at a conference center in the Marin Headlands attending a Symantec workshop, in case you care):

Google Maps Geolocation

Privacy purists take note: You need to explicitly enable geolocation before it works and can undo it, and Google says it’ll never track you down without your permission.

The new feature works natively in Firefox 3.5 and Chrome 2.0, and can be added via Google Gears to other browsers–which means that you should be able to use it in just about any browser you’re likely to use.

 
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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Jens Says:

    Can it use UMTS cell ids (with a UMTS stick attached to a notebook) or an attached GPS “mouse”?

  2. dale johnson Says:

    the circle does nothng but go back to my last request. hmm did they roll out the new version in sections?

  3. Jeremy Says:

    Some iPhone specific sites that support this also work somewhat in FF 3.5. I just tried Weather Underground, and while their main site doesn’t have the feature, the iPhone version, http://i.wund.com, does.

3 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Oliver Herold (olhe) 's status on Friday, 10-Jul-09 09:07:27 UTC - Identi.ca Says:

    […] http://technologizer.com/2009/07/09/google-maps-knows-where-you-are/ […]

  2. Die Botschaft hör ich wohl, allein mir fehlt der Glaube. » F!XMBR Says:

    […] Google Maps Knows Where You Are One of the nifty new features that debuted in Firefox 3.5 last week was support for the W3C Geolocation API Specification, a Web standard that can fake a GPS-like effect by using clues such as the Wi-Fi networks you’re near to figure out your location. In der Praxis funktioniert dies mehr schlecht als recht, es ist (noch) mehr ein geschicktes Raten. Aber die Tendenzen sind gerade in der heutigen Zeit bedenklich. Google says it’ll never track you down without your permission. macht mich dabei auch nicht glücklicher. In der Theorie also ist (bisher) alles gut […]

  3. Rich Estill » Blog Archive » Google Maps Knows Where You Are Says:

    […] http://technologizer.com/2009/07/09/google-maps-knows-where-you-are/ […]