Google has introduced mapping software that uses the companys search algorithms to sift through information broadcast from cell towers and approximate a users location on a map through a mobile phone.
Launched Nov. 28, Google Maps for Mobile software includes a beta version of Googles My Location technology, which lets a user type the number "0" on a phone to find his or her approximate location.
Most location-based applications require users to type out addresses to find what theyre looking for, which requires more keystrokes and time.
My Location is intended for users who dont have phones enabled with GPS, which provides more precise location fixes, or as a complement to GPS.
Google said My Location is faster than GPS technology, which can take several minutes to link to a satellite. The software also provides better coverage indoors than GPS and wont drain phone batteries as fast as GPS, Google said in a statement.
Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin said the technology is good for helping people find what is in their vicinity, but doesnt provide the routing and navigation capabilities for pinpointing location that GPS does, which is what some people require.
"Of course, for Googles advertising purposes [the My Location] level of precision is plenty good," Golvin told eWEEK.
Click here to read more about Googles mobile Android platform.
Google has not specified how it plans to provide ads with the location-based services, but has made no secret of its plans to target mobile users with ads as fervently as it has targeted users of stationary PCs.
Google, which is often taken to task by privacy advocates for the way it mines users data from the Internet, also made a point to note in a statement that this location approximation is anonymous.
The company said My Location does not gather any personally identifiable information or associate any location data with personally identifiable information. Moreover, the feature can be disabled by anyone who prefers not to use it.
Google said My Location is available on a mishmash of smart phones. This includes all color BlackBerry devices, all Symbian Series 60 3rd Edition devices, most Windows Mobile devices, newer Sony Ericsson devices and some Motorola devices.
Users may download Google Maps for Mobile Version 2.0 with My Location here.
Google Maps for Mobile, launched in the United States in November 2005, was one of the seminal Google mobile applications, allowing users to use interactive maps and satellite imagery to find local businesses and driving directions from their mobile devices.
Continuing the mobile push, in the midst of lobbying for open access for mobile devices and 700MHz spectrum and shrugging off rumors that it will produce a Google phone and a wireless network, Google has managed to deliver its Android mobile operating software, one of the biggest innovations of the year.
Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.