New Gears Geolocation API powers mobile web sites

Friday, August 22, 2008 | 12:24 AM

Imagine if web sites could provide you with customized information based on your current location, even if you don't have GPS. Today we're launching the Gears Geolocation API for mobile and desktop browsers, while two third-party developers are launching the first location-enabled web apps using this API on Windows Mobile.

One of the most popular travel sites in the Europe,, has now location-enabled their new mobile restaurant finder to help you find restaurants near you without requiring you to type in where you are. If you're in the UK, just go to fonefood at, click the "Find your location" link on the home page, select the type of restaurant you want, and will automatically work out which neighbourhood and city you are in and find matching restaurants. This is great for both UK residents and the millions of tourists who visit each year.

Rummble is a new social discovery tool where you can recommend places to visit and see personalised recommendations from friends. Just go to and click on the "Update location with Gears" link on the home page to see the "Rummbles" near you.

These two apps make use of the Gears Geolocation API. The API can determine your location using nearby cell-towers or GPS for your mobile device or your computer's IP address for your laptop. Google provides this service for free to both developers and users.

Gears is available on IE Mobile on mobile and Internet Explorer and Firefox on desktop. To use the location-enabled and Rummble web apps you will need a Windows Mobile device that supports GPS or cell-id lookup (for example the Samsung Blackjack II and HTC Touch Dual, see supported devices FAQ). We are working hard to bring Gears to more mobile platforms, such as Android and others.

Google takes your privacy very seriously. Although Gears and the Geolocation API do not record your location, you should only allow web sites that you trust to access your location. Gears will always tell you when a site wants to access your location for the first time and you can either allow or deny that site permission. Always check the privacy policy of the web site if you are in doubt as to how they may use your location information.

If you are in the UK and have a supported Windows Mobile device visit and today. The first time you use the location feature you will be prompted to download and install Gears.


Unknown said...

So here's a question for you, it's great that you have managed to get gears onto the mobile device, but what made Google choose the Windows Mobile devices as their first choice OS to implement this on? Is it the ease of integration to the OS or just the number of users of Windows Mobile devices?

I'm curious because everyone's still making a fuss over the IPhone.

Derek said...

This is great! thanks. Hope to see JavaME (for devices that support CellID lookup) and Symbian library soon :)

Joe Desbonnet said...

Any plans to implement Gears for S60 phones (Nokia N95 in particular)?

Unknown said...

We’ve had the capability for over a year now. Any app can access any native (mobile) device information and send that to a Web server. We also have the capability to allow JavaScript to access local API's from the browser (Windows Mobile).

I do have one question for you: how are you making the getElementByName me and getElementbyID method calls under Windows Mobile? Without those the API won't work?



Unknown said...

If you are looking to do something similar on other platforms (S60, Blackberry, J2ME...), I think Navizon also offers a geolocation API.

Robbie Pence said...

Please add lyrics search to Google SMS!

Malcolm Hall said...

Is the plugin for Pocket IE only?

andE said...

So will this be hooked up to the googlemaps driveby process in StreetView so that when you login and "send" your location a GoogleCar is sent out to foto you.
In this way google starts to get pictures of its most regular users up on googlemaps?? ;-)
Big bro is watching u. Maybe. ;-)

Jawad Shuaib said...

Location based services and mobile devices are the present and the future. Thank you for this service!

- Jawad Shuaib

Renuka Prasad said...

Hi all,

The GeoLocation API sample in

works perfectly fine on my desktop browser.

But, strangely, when I requested the link in the browser of windows mobile 6 emulator, it asks for the permission the the application to access Gears on the emulator and even though I granted permission, it could not fetch the location.

What should I do?


dadc said...

LocationAPI for J2ME will be great but usually java does not have ability to run JavaScript and really good xhtml browser available used in any application (IMHO).

Support to access CellID in Java have only smaller percentage of newer phones.

We developed mobile client in JavaME (MIDP2.0) - where can be used limited xhtml pages with extensions which can populate form with lat/lon and other data. It's not gears but kind of GeoLocationAPI - browser with location support.

My questions are: will (and when) be opened API to query CellID database? Google has one, Nokia as I know has one, Skyhook Wireless, some open databases, ...

Are there any good implementation (or attempt) of XHTML browser (with JavaScript, CSS)?


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