Google releases useful “my location” feature for cellphones

google-mobile.jpgGoogle today released a revised version of its maps for mobile phones, including a new “my location” feature that uses cell tower ID information to provide users with their approximate location.

This is a very significant release, for a few reasons: Location information makes search faster and more convenient, and there are a ton of advertisers willing to advertise locally to grab your attention as you shop, dine or date. The Google feature helps people find what’s around them, and how to get there.

It’s also significant because it doesn’t rely on GPS, the prevalent technology used to deliver location information to date by other providers. GPS is supported on fewer than 15 percent of the mobile phones sold this year, according to Google. Google’s feature, by contrast, is supported by most phones.

The My Location technology also complements GPS-enabled devices, Google said, 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.

More from the release:

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.

Google Maps for mobile, first launched in the US in November 2005, enables users to view interactive maps and satellite imagery, find local businesses, get point-to-point driving directions, and view live traffic updates, all while on the go. The application is now available on and optimized for a wide variety of platforms, running on most J2ME-enabled devices; all color BlackBery devices; Windows Mobile devices with Windows Mobile 2003, 5.0, and above; Symbian Series 60 3rd Edition devices; and Palm devices with Palm OS 5 and above. Google Maps for mobile is being actively used by millions of people in more than 20 different countries around the globe.

To download Google Maps for mobile with My Location, point your mobile or desktop web browser to www.google.com/gmm. To see the full range of mobile products and services available from Google, visit mobile.google.com.