Welcome Geode

Mozilla rolling out location awareness in Firefox.

Mozilla Labs announced Geode, which will be added to a future version of Firefox. Currently it is available as an add-on. Geode allows a website to request your location. You can then optionally choose to send your exact location, neighborhood, or city to the requesting site.

Geode screenshot

I have been waiting for this to come out, especially after Aza Raskin’s conceptual post. The interface is intuitive (although I preferred Aza’s somewhat more graphical version).

I tried the plugin on the Geode sample page, and it does what it should. It showed my location as promised, the same way my iPhone does. Geode probably uses the Skyhook database (like the iPhone) to find the location based on the Wi-Fi access points it can ‘see’. This is a bit of a problem as the Skyhook coverage in Europe is bad and as such not particularly useful yet. Skyhook is extending its coverage in Europe and Mozilla is looking for other providers as well so it may get better over time.

We’re still working out the specifics, but we’re hoping that location will be provided by one or more user selectable service providers and methods: GPS-based, WiFi-based, manual entry, etc.

Why would you need this? Mozilla gives the same old example of finding a restaurant near your location by ‘pulling out your laptop’. I don’t think people ‘pull’ out their laptops that easily (that’s up the iPhones and BlackBerrys), but I can see the movie theatre showing the schedule for the nearest complex at the top of the list or Google giving a higher score to search results nearby. I suppose we’ll even see location aware ads with the promotions of the closest supermarket.