Google Gears Geolocation API Now Spots Laptops by Wi-Fi

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    NEWSLETTERS

    So long as you’ve got a Wi-Fi signal to grab onto and a Web browser with Google’s Gears engine on board, Google is enabling Web developers near and far the option to locate users all around the world and feed them information relevant to their respective places on the map.

    It is doing this with an enhancement of its Gears Geolocation API, which was originally designed to provide location services for mobile phone users. Now the company includes users of PCs in the process.

    Two weeks ago to the day we learned of Mozilla’s release of Geode, a service that provides location-management for users of the current publicly-available Firefox browser. The debut of Geode comes ahead of the planned launch of a version of Firefox that will natively support the W3C Geolocation specification. What today’s announcement by Google reveals is really just a broader layer of support for geolocation, encompassing multiple browsers across multiple platforms. The more, the merrier, so to speak.

    As you might now expect, Charles Wiles, product manager within Google’s mobile development division preempts any privacy concerns voiced by users, saying that the Gears Geolocation API server “does not record user location.” Still, he notes that it is incumbent on users to only allow sites they trust to tap their coordinates. According to Wiles, accuracy of the API is “within 200m.”

    Gears naturally is something that arrives built-in with Google Chrome downloads and the Android mobile operating system, and acts as a plug-in for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari users (soon Opera users as well). This of course greatly increases its potential for ubiquity. While most location-based services on the Web are focusing much of their efforts on the mobile realm, the sheer volume of laptops gives Google a really seamless way to dramatically increase use of its improved Geolocation API across all manner of sites, including those that might ordinarily not incorporate Wi-Fi “spotting.”

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