Google Maps Knows Where You Are

Adam DuVander, July 13th, 2009

Google MapsThe world’s most popular map service can now tell you where you are. Google Maps has now added a feature that uses JavaScript to geolocate your current whereabouts.

If you have Firefox 3.5 or the latest version of Chrome, you can see this in action. From the main maps page, click the circle below the pan interface. If you have a supported browser or plugin, you’ll be asked to share your location with Google Maps. Approve the request and the map automatically zooms to the most accurate location it can find. Then a small blue dot indicates your current whereabouts on the map.

Google Maps Geolocation Example

The technology behind browser geolocation is a massive database of WiFi hotspots. Because the unique IDs of these devices are broadcast, even when the access to them is secure, they can be tied to latitude/longitude coordinates. The result is precision within a block in many urban areas.

This is not yet supported in all browsers. As noted above, this supported in the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome, and slightly older versions of Firefox could do the same with either the Geode or Loki add-ons. Google Gears makes geolocation possible in even more browsers, including mobile devices.

In order to include a similar feature in your website, see the W3C draft standard. Since it’s a work in progress, the interface may change, as it has already. Unfortunately, that means there are slightly different methods to access the data with Firefox 3.5, Geode, Loki and Gears.

Nevertheless, this is the sort of feature that will greatly help many map-based sites, side-stepping the sometimes cumbersome “enter your address” forms.

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4 Responses to “Google Maps Knows Where You Are”

July 14th, 2009
at 7:35 am
Comment by: links for 2009-07-14 « A little Jack with that?

[...] Google Maps Knows Where You Are >> Programmable Web [...]

July 15th, 2009
at 12:00 pm
Comment by: Weekly Update: July 13- July 19 | edbuzz.org

[...] Google Maps Knows Where You Are– Adam DuVander, Programmable Web [...]

July 21st, 2011
at 4:05 pm
Comment by: PDA’s Newsbucket | microslurps.com

[...] Apollo 11 Moon Landing in Realtime >> Mashable• Google Maps Knows Where You Are >> Programmable Web• Comments Dead, Twitter Holds Smoking Gun >> ReadWriteWeb• Seesmic Launches Web-Based [...]

October 6th, 2011
at 3:33 pm
Comment by: PDA’s Newsbucket | Richard Hartley

[...] Apollo 11 Moon Landing in Realtime >> Mashable• Google Maps Knows Where You Are >> Programmable Web• Comments Dead, Twitter Holds Smoking Gun >> ReadWriteWeb• Seesmic Launches Web-Based [...]

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Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.