Thursday, July 9, 2009
If you've used Google Maps for mobile, you'll be familiar with My Location. With single click of a button, your approximate location is shown on the map with a blue circle. Wouldn't it be great if that same feature was available in Google Maps on your desktop or laptop computer?
Today we're excited to announce exactly that, the launch of My Location for Google Maps.
When you visit Google Maps with a supported web browser, you'll see a new My Location button in the top left corner of the map. Simply click the button to center the map to your approximate location. If your location can be determined accurately enough, it's shown with a blue circle, just like on Google Maps for Mobile. Click the button again to remove the blue circle, or to re-center the map after you've moved it away.
My Location is a great way to start exploring the map around you, and perfect for working out where you are when you're away from home. For example, if you've just arrived in an unfamiliar city, My Location is a handy way to view the map around you, even if you don't know the street address. You can find things to do nearby or work out the best way to get where you need to go. Even when you're somewhere familiar, My Location is a convenient way to open the map 'on the right page'.
To obtain your location, Google Maps takes advantage of the W3C Geolocation API standard. The Geolocation API is a new feature available in the latest web browsers which allows any website to access your current location. If you use Internet Explorer, you might be familiar with My Location in Google Toolbar, which is able to provide your location in Google Maps, but this is limited to Internet Explorer. Using the new Geolocation API allows My Location to work in any browser that provides the feature. Currently, you can use My Location in Google Maps if you use Google Chrome, Firefox 3.5 or any other web browser with Gears installed. We hope to support other browsers soon too. You won't see the My Location button on browsers that don't support the feature.
So how does it work? When you activate the My Location feature, Google Maps asks your web browser for your location. Typically, your browser uses information about the Wi-Fi access points around you to estimate your location. If no Wi-Fi access points are in range, or your computer doesn't have Wi-Fi, it may resort to using your computer's IP address to get an approximate location. As you'd expect, the accuracy of My Location varies with your location, and in some cases, Google Maps may not be able to provide a location at all.
Google takes privacy very seriously, so your location will never be used without your permission. The first time you use My Location on Google Maps, you'll be asked to confirm that you're happy to share your location with Google Maps, and you can always undo your decision. See the help center article on Privacy and My Location for more information about how your location is used.
So visit Google Maps, click the My Location button, and start exploring the map around you!