Google Mobile Maps Adds Tracking Sans GPS

Uses broadcast information to garner approximate locations.

While GPS may be the latest bundled feature for most high end smartphones, Google has come up with an alternative solution for those not yet on the bleeding edge.

Dubbed ‘My Location’, it is a beta app designed to integrate into the latest version of Google Maps for mobiles and lets users discover their approximate location even without GPS.

All a user has to do is press ‘0’ on their handset while using Google Maps and My Location will take the information broadcast from mobile towers in your area to approximate your current position. A blue dot with then appear on the map with a shaded circumference around it, to indicate your guide.

So how accurate is it? Well, if you have GPS there will be no shaded circumference at all as the blue dot will pinpoint exactly, but for everyone else Google estimates to come within 1000 metres on average. That’s not great, but it provides a start – especially for those lost or travelling abroad.

Google anticipates My Location should improve in terms of both coverage and accuracy as development continues and it will work immediately on most web enabled phones including BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Nokia/Symbian and Java capable models. Interestingly, I also tried the feature on the native Google Maps application on my iPhone and it is up and running there too (it came within about 400m). That said, an official Navizon app is available for all unlocked iPhone running firmware 1.0.2.

Ultimately, My Location may be the poor man’s GPS, but – unless you were born with a compass in your head (I hear that’s a painful transplant) – it’s considerably better than nothing at all.

Google Maps: My Location

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