Introducing the Gears Geolocation API for all laptop WiFi users

OCT 21, 2008
By Charles Wiles, Product Manager, Google Mobile Team

I am thrilled to announce that today we have enhanced the Gears Geolocation API so that developers can now securely locate users to within 200m accuracy in major desktop browsers in hundreds of cities around the world. Whether your users are Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox or (soon) Opera users, you can now automatically deliver an experience that is tailored to their current location. For example,'s new Radar application allows users to find nearby hotels, ITN's Google Earth mash up in Firefox allows users to see nearby news stories and Rummble's social discovery site allows users to automatically set their current location for friends to see.

When we originally proposed the Gears Geolocation API our goal was to make it easy for developers to deliver location enabled web sites on mobile phones. However we realized laptop users would benefit from location enabled web sites too. Today we are adding WiFi signals to the Geolocation API so that laptop users can benefit from location enabled web sites for the first time and mobile users from the increased accuracy. And because the Geolocation API is the same for developers in both desktop and mobile browsers you can even use the same code on both platforms!

In Chrome and Android, with Gears built in, you can deliver a location enabled web site without requiring your users to install a plug-in, but in other browsers they will need to go through a simple plug-in install process. We also submitted a simplified version of the Geolocation API as a WC3 specification and the upcoming Firefox 3.1 plans to support the W3C version directly. The Gears Geolocation API is completely free to developers and users through the default Google location provider.

To protect user privacy, the Gears Geolocation API server does not record user location. However, third party sites may do so, and we recommend that users only allow web sites they trust to access their location. Gears will always tell a user when your site wants to access their location for the first time and the user can either allow or deny your site permission. We recommend users check the privacy policy of your web site if they are in doubt as to how your site may use location information.