Many people is talking about it. In fact it’s really good news. Google has included a new technology called “My Location” – its worst characteristic is undoubtly the name – in the new Google Maps for Mobile 2.0.
Google Maps for Mobile already allowed local searches related to the exactly location of the user. Up to now, this feature was only available in devices with GPS, that was the source of the user’s location data. From now on, Google will not need GPS.
As they stated in the press release, Google has developed algorithms in house in order to get an estimation of user’s location. This algorithms process the data that client application gathers from cell towers. Specifically, they say to be using cell ID.
The reason for introducing this new technology would be that, in Google words, GPS will be present in fewer than 15% of smartphones expected to be sold in 2007. But, in addition to that, we found another more interesting one. Google seems to consider that GPS is too slow and not reliable enough indoors. For sure they think this could ruin user experience and want to overcome it. Moreover, GPS quickly drains phone batteries.
The major drawback of cell ID-based technology is accuracy, much lower than provided by GPS. This is one to consider seriously as this problem would cut down the number of services this technology is suitable for.
Another question is what mobile carriers think about this movement, since Google seems to show the intention of ignoring them. Though, we must remember that Google aims becoming a carrier.
The ‘My Location’ technology is available on most smartphones, including all color BlackBerry devices, all Symbian Series 60 3rd Edition devices, most Windows Mobile devices, newer Sony Ericsson devices, and some Motorola devices.
We will keep track on new releases of Google Maps, as it may show the way to go respecting localization services.
Here’s a video explaining how ‘My Location’ works.