Google API allows creating apps that can track laptops

Google Gears Geolocation API adds Wi-Fi to help developers build location-based Web apps

Google has enhanced its Google Gears Geolocation API so that developers can build applications that can track the location of laptop users within 200 meters.

The new API, unveiled on Tuesday, builds the initial version of the Geolocation API, which Google Gears developers can use to build Web applications that locate mobile phone users. The API was first released in August. Google Gears is open source technology that allows developers to write Web applications that can run offline.

Google said the applications built using the API can help users locate nearby hotels, and to allow a user's friends on social networks to see where he or she is.

"Today we are adding WiFi signals to the Geolocation API so that laptop users can benefit from location enabled web sites for the first time and mobile users from the increased accuracy," wrote Charles Wiles, Google mobile team product manager, in a blog post . "And because the Geolocation API is the same for developers in both desktop and mobile browsers you can even use the same code on both platforms"

Developers using Google's Chrome browser and Android platform with Google Gears can build a location enabled web site that doesn't require users to install a plug-in, Wiles said. Developers using other browsers will need to go through a plug-in install process, he added.

He went on to note that Google submitted a simplified version of the Geolocation API as a World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) specification, and that the upcoming Firefox 3.1 release is slated to support the W3C version directly. The Gears Geolocation API can be downloaded without charge.

Google added that the Geolocation API server does not record user location, and that Gears users must grant permission for access to their location.. "Gears will always tell a user when your site wants to access their location for the first time, and the user can either allow or deny your site permission," Google said. However, it added, "We recommend users check the privacy policy of your web site if they are in doubt as to how your site may use location information."

Glenn Fleishman, a blogger at Ars Technica, noted that although Gears prompts a Web surfer to say whether he or she wants to reveal the location of their device, browser users should take additional steps to further protect their privacy.

"With more focus on location, users may need to make a concerted effort to rebuff attempts to find them when they choose to be left alone," Fleishman added. "The iPhone has a switch that allows location services to be turned off globally for users to avoid being asked whether their locations should be provided; that might soon be an important requirement for browser implementation, too."

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags google gears

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Heather Havenstein

Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GT75 TITAN

"I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it."

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?