Google Maps Mobile Now Has Virtual GPS

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Today Google released an update to its Google Maps Mobile application, and has added support for Virtual GPS. Dubbed ‘My Location’, the new feature uses cell tower triangulation and talks to the towers that you are using at the time. It then displays this information as an approximate location on the map, allowing you to easily figure out where you are, and then use Google’s already powerful Maps Mobile application to see where you want to go.

Google has also put together this fun little video, explaining how it works. Since this isn’t true GPS, the location is not going to be 100% accurate, but at least it gives you a better idea of where you are, and it’s alot easier than being in a strange place and trying to locate your current location for a navigation application.

If you don’t remember, Google recently purchased Jaiku, a micro-social-blogging service that uses a similar feature to update a users location via the mobile client. Hopefully we all see what’s coming next – the ability for advertisers to purchase mobile mapping ads. Since My Location does not require a GPS chip in the handset, it works with nearly any handset on the market.

The video, which you can watch here, states that personally identifiable information is not shared with Google, but what do you think? Is this a bit scary, or incredibly useful?

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6 Responses to Google Maps Mobile Now Has Virtual GPS

  1. James Whatley November 29, 2007 at 11:17 am #

    I’m sure during the lunch break at the recent Future of Mobile a certain Mike Stead was showing off some other fancy GPS thingy wotsit application…

    What was it called again?

  2. John Burton November 30, 2007 at 11:04 am #

    This does seem to work on 3.
    The help / about screen seems to correctly display the phone cell, but then it rapidly displays a message saying my location is not available at this time. I presume that google need to know the location of the networks cells for this and maybe they don’t for 3?

  3. John Burton November 30, 2007 at 11:05 am #

    Oops that should say “doesn’t”

  4. Mr Gumby November 30, 2007 at 1:49 pm #

    …lots of speculation on this about how much Google must be paying the MNO’s to use their Cell ID info – some as high as €0.10 per time.

    Get real – Cell ID info is out there in a myriad of user-generated (Jaiku/Navizon/ZoneTag) and commercial databases, tied to lat/lon, for the taking. You really think Google & TeleAtlas haven’t been recording every MNO CellID & WiFi hotspot MAC address as they drive around photographing everything?

    Thing is – it only works if the Cell ID doesn’t change…either because there’s a major network sharing deal / reshuffle on the cards (Voda/Orange, and possibly 3/T-Mobile?) or because the MNO actively changes their entire Cell ID scheme, to reclaim the trump card of location.

    But with WiFi in every street now, maybe WiFi-only is quite adequate, almost all the time.

  5. njar November 30, 2007 at 2:50 pm #

    There was a pretty detailed discussion about this on the MomoLondon email chain..

  6. John Campbell November 30, 2007 at 3:10 pm #

    The latest S60 version of Google maps already makes use of the GPS receiver in my N95.

    A company called Trisent (http://www.trisent.com/) are doing some quite interesting things with location based technology at the moment – in theory requiring much less operator support. An application on the phone sends back various data (signal strength, GSM frame advance, cell ID etc…) to their server over GPRS or SMS. It the calculates your position from what it knows about the network and sends it back to the application.

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