Excerpt from Google press release –
“Google today announced the release of version 2.0 of Google Maps for mobile, its innovative and widely used mobile mapping and local search application. New in v2.0 is a beta version of Google’s “My Location” technology, which uses cell tower ID information to provide users with their approximate location, helping them determine where they are, what’s around them, and how to get there.
Google is committed to providing users with quick and easy access to the information they need, no matter when or where they need it. Location information makes mobile mapping and search faster and more convenient, but the most common source of location information to date — GPS technology — is supported on fewer than 15 percent of the mobile phones expected to be sold in 2007. With Google’s new My Location technology, users who don’t have GPS-enabled mobile phones will now be able to take advantage of the added speed and convenience afforded by location information. The My Location technology also complements GPS-enabled devices, as it delivers a location estimate faster than GPS, provides coverage inside buildings (where GPS signals can be unreliable), and doesn’t drain phone batteries as quickly as GPS. Whether users are trying to locate a restaurant in an unfamiliar neighborhood, get directions to the nearest hotel while traveling, or just find a place to grab some coffee while shopping for the holidays, Google Maps for mobile with My Location can help them get what they need quickly and easily.
The My Location technology takes information broadcast from cell towers and sifts it through Google-developed algorithms to approximate a user’s current location on the map. This approximation is anonymous, as Google does not gather any personally identifiable information or associate any location data with personally identifiable information as part of the My Location feature. The feature can also be easily disabled by anyone who prefers not to use it. The My Location technology is available on most smartphones, including all color BlackBerry devices, all Symbian Series 60 3rd Edition devices, most Windows Mobile devices, newer Sony Ericsson devices, and some Motorola devices.”
Press here for full press release.
While on the topic, in regarding cell tower ID information, I still remember back in 2002 while I was in Bangkok, the cell phone can reveal my location (thanks to the Thai operators) and to an extent tells me what Soi (street) I’m on. That was a great function especially for tourist who cannot position themselves on the map. But meanwhile back at the farm, the local Hong Kong telecom operators just can’t do jack. Let’s hope it works this time around with the new Google maps.