My Location: smaller is better!

Monday, September 15, 2008 | 6:31 PM

My Location just got better for all the applications that use Google's geolocation service!

In November 2007 we launched My Location on Google Maps for mobile, and in the past few months, we've location-enabled other applications from third parties and Google. Hundreds of location-enabled iPhone applications, including the Google Mobile App, use Google's database of cell towers to determine approximate location. And just last week we announced Mobile Search with My Location, powered by the Gears Geolocation API.

With today's launch, your location estimate will be centered closer to your true location, and we have also improved the calculation of just how good our estimate is. When we originally launched the "blue circle" on Google Maps for mobile, the circle usually stayed the same size no matter if you were in downtown Manhattan or rural Iowa. Now, the next time you're using Google Maps in downtown Manhattan, expect to see a much smaller circle that's also far more accurate. Conversely, when you're in a lightly populated area like rural Iowa, expect to see a much larger circle which also happens to be centered closer to your true location. Check out these screenshots to get a better idea of the before and after effects of today's change:

New York City -- a smaller light blue circle denotes that we're more confident of your actual location.




Slater, Iowa - the light blue circle is larger because there are fewer cell towers with which to determine your location, but the dark blue circle is more accurately centered in downtown Slater


So how exactly have we made these improvements? Mobile operators typically need a lot more cell towers in populous areas to service all the users. This means each individual tower provides a much smaller coverage footprint. On the other hand, in a very sparsely populated area, towers provide much larger coverage footprints. We've developed algorithms to try and figure out what the right circle size should be and are pleased to make this available to you today.

There's actually nothing you need to do to start enjoying the new improvements to My Location. Any application powered by Google's geolocation service automatically benefits from today's launch. Enjoy!

Posted by Zhengrong Ji, Software Engineer

15 comments:

chrislandau said...

I'm not seeing better results. Do I need to reinstall Maps?

aNTwNHs said...

I wonder if this works the same way in ipod touch. Is there a database of wifi hotspots? Am just astonished by how close to my true location (Athens,Greece) is the calculated estimate.

fergiej said...

I agree with antwnhs. I just got a new iPod Touch this weekend and was amazed at how it has gotten my location just about perfectly no matter where I am. I am pretty sure this post is about the cell tower triangulation like the non-gps blackberries use, so, can anyone at Google enlighten us as to how the location works so well on the new touches? There's no GPS and no cell tower data to use. Is it related to Skyhook Wireless's technology? What amazed me was how it nailed my position at home. I do have an access point running, but how can skyhook know about my location? Questions, questions...thanks for the great work guys.

Chen said...

强烈要求在英文手机地图中提供中国地图数据;或者在中文手机地图中添加GPS功能.

Lubomir said...

I have treo 700w from Verizon, this feature never worked for me. I just reinstalled hoping that it would finally start working, but it still says that my headset "doesn't seem to be compatible with My Location... :(

smokeonit said...

google should partner with skyhook at last, like apple did for the google maps app on the iphone... GSM based locating is so unrealiable...!!!

skyhook = WPS, wifi based location service...

James said...

Is there a way to look at the algorithms used for this? I've been trying to develop a simple bike computer type application for the blackberry, but the GPS data is poorly smoothed, and requires more post-processing. I was hoping I could take advantage of some of google's algorithms for this application...

Robert Andrews said...

I updated my app but am still not seeing Street View. Your video shows v2.3.1 but google.com/gmm/ only offers me 2.2.0.11.

N95.

ppoo said...

what a bummer
I have an 8320 that had ver 2.2.2 and voice search worked great...

I upgraded to this version to get street level and now pushing the voice button goes straight to voice dialing....did voice search just go away?

Kate McKay said...

Can we offer corrections for google? My husband's blackberry always insists we are on 94th street in manhattan when we are home at 96th street. My blackberry has it correct (same network, att). Any way we can tweak his? Maybe re-center it or something?

Richard Posey said...

Mmmmmm ... there are zillions of Motorola iRazr's out there that are capable of using the maps and Streetview. That, alone, is terrific. But, is there any way us non-iPod, non-PDA types can have My Location? I did have it show up on a menu, but it told me that I ... or my phone, really ... wasn't worthy.

Gypsy Jane said...

My Treo 650 said I had to upgrade to google maps 2.0.2, so I did, but I don't like it. The previous version did everything I needed and quickly. Now it is bogged down with extras I don't want or can't use on my device. The feature I WOULD like, alternate routes, does not exist. What would be nice is to have the choice of the earlier version, say as "maps lite"?, or to turn off unwanted features. I reinstalled my old prc file but was told the upgrade was REQUIRED. Oh well, I tried.

LAWmoose said...

I have a brand new T-Mobile Wing that is JAVA enabled. I reloaded the new JAVA version of GMM and I have none of the new features. Any suggestions??

becca said...

i ditto what lubomir said. i have a treo 700w & am so sad that my location doesnt work. :<

Satya said...

Here i would like to point out an error which has been introduced in a new version of 2.3.2.

In previous version of GMM myL 404:20 : 16006 : 24622

used to show right location i.e. Nerul Suburban Station in Mumbai ( India ) but now it shows a location in Dubai with accuracy of 5000m.

Please correct this error. Apart from this some nearby towers have started showing lesser accurate position than in previous version. Operator is Vodafone IN Mumbai.

Thanks.