On Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 5:55 PM, Stroller
> On 20 Apr 2010, at 13:17, Mick wrote:
>>> "Introduced in Gecko 1.9.1: Code with UniversalXPConnect privileges
>>> can monitor the list of available WiFi access points to obtain
>>> information about them including their SSID, MAC address, and signal
>>> strength. This capability was introduced primarily to allow WiFi-based
>>> location services to be used by geolocation services."
>> Hmm Mozilla's netlib. I had a look at the slides and bits of the
>> documentation on the Mozilla website, but I am still not really clear
>> what it does, or why it is needed.
> I *believe* that the idea of having geolocation accessible to the browser is
> so that websites should be able to provide locally-relevant information.
> The classic browser has no idea where you are, so if you open the homepage
> of Starbucks / McDonalds / Burgerking / Tesco / Sainsburys / whatever and
> click on "find my nearest store" then you'll need to enter your zip code in
> order for the site to provide you that information.
> I *believe* that a geolocation-aware browser would be able to tell the site
> where you are. So as soon as you open the webpage, the site will query your
> browser, your browser will tell it where you are and an AJAXy element on the
> page would say "Your nearest Tesco store is 13th Street... Click here for
There are already big sites like Twitter and Google Maps that use the
geolocation API. Give it a try: http://www.google.com/maps/m
If it is able to get your location, it should have a little dot in the
bottom-right corner that will take you to your current location when
The browser asks for your permission before giving your location away
to a website, so there's no need to worry about privacy as far as I
can tell. It is surprisingly accurate, I don't know what kind of magic
they use but I live in a small town (1 square mile in size) and it was
able to pinpoint me down to that level. Maybe from my search/browsing
history? I don't know... maybe I don't want to know.
What if the Google Street View vans, in addition to taking
photographs, were also scanning for wifi signals and recording their
location? That would give them an impressive database of wifi
And, of course, like you said, when I run Firefox on my phone it uses
the built-in GPS receiver and can find me quite easily. If there's no
GPS signal available it uses a database of cellular tower locations to
triangulate where I am, which is much less accurate than GPS but still
accurate enough to show within a few blocks of where I am. There are
several mobile-oriented sites that use this API today for local
searches and so on.