Google has recently launched two ways of locating users behind web applications. Fistly we have the AJAX API, that allows to get an estimate of a user’s location based on their IP address. Secondly we have the Gears Geolocation API, we will concentrate in this one.
Gears provides a way to get a more precise estimate of a user’s location using the cell-ID of nearby cell towers or on-board GPS (if either is available). This way, users with mobile devices with Gears installed will be able to access their location in a more accurate way than before. Using both systems there will be less probability of location error. Later on this Geolocation API will add data from WiFi connections to improve accuracy even further, on both desktop and mobile. In all cases, Gears takes care of assimilating the results from each source and returning the best available position estimate.
From Google, we have seen this working on Google Maps with My Location, what we have already posted. To understand the concept of Gears Geolocation we can see the following video that explains the functionality of My Location system.
Gears Geolocation is opensource, so now third-party developers can use it. Good examples are Lastminute and Rumble, which are launching the first location-enabled web apps using this API on Windows Mobile. To access their geolocation ready websites just go to m.lastminute.com and m.rummble.com from your mobile device. These websites give you info according to your location. Lastminute advices you with restaurants nearby. And Rummble shows if you have “rumblers” around (places to visit and personalised recommendations from friends). You can see some example in the following video.
Additionally, if you are interested in this technology, there is also a similar product from Navizon, which offers a similar API.