Geode Brings Location Awareness To Firefox

Firefox only (Windows/Mac/Linux): Firefox extension Geode adds experimental geolocation features to your browser. Done well, that could make a big difference:

You've arrived in a new city, a new continent, a new coffee shop. You don't really know where you are, and are looking for a good place to eat. You pull out your laptop, fire up Firefox, and go to your favourite review site. It automatically deduces your location, and serves up some delicious suggestions a couple blocks away and plots directions there.

That's still a dream, since most web sites don't yet support that sort of location awareness, so Mozilla Labs offers up a couple of demo apps you can use to try it out. So the big question is: How will Geode find me, and how well does it work?

When you first install Geode and restart Firefox, you'll be directed to the Geode welcome page, which will ask permission to use your location.

To locate you, Geode uses previously mentioned Skyhook Loki's Wi-Fi positioning tools, which maps Wi-Fi signals. According to the Mozilla Labs post, Loki can find you within an accuracy of 10 to 20 meters in under a second. So did Geode live up to those standards?

I used Geode on my laptop (you have to be on a Wi-Fi connection for it to work), which is connected to my wireless home network, and Loki found me immediately and with startling accuracy. Next I tried the barebones demo app, called The Food Finder. It used that impressively accurate location information to list coffee places on a Google Map within walking distance of my location, and again, worked exactly as advertised.

Geode is available from the Mozilla Labs post now, but the technology that it's using will be built directly into Firefox 3.1 when it's released. While Geode doesn't have a lot of support across the web yet, this is the kind of functionality that will—given time—transform your mobile computing life. If you give it a try, let's hear what you think—and how accurately it found you—in the comments.


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