There I go again, always proofreading. I guess that Apple was in such a tizzy over the last two days that fixing typos is not high on their list right now.
So, the iPhone 2.0 location service is rather cool and I can see the value inherent in it… but only if it really knows where you are. Since I still have an original phone without the new GPS capability, location services uses cell tower triangulation and wifi router information to find my position. Before the 2.0 update, it located me within about a half-mile radius. Now, it thinks I am about five miles away from my real location, and it zooms right in to give me a very small pinpoint — in some condos over near Berryessa.
Here’s what I think is happening: the wifi location system works by mapping out the location of wireless base stations. I assume they are identified by their network addresses, which are usually a hardcoded unique number. This system gives pretty accurate proximity information. Unless, of course, a base station moves.
I’m thinking that someone in my neighborhood — there are a lot of wifi networks showing up around here — used to live over near Berryessa, and moved their base station to my neighborhood. As far as I know, our neighborhood has never been “mapped” by the company that provides this information (since wifi triangulation never worked here before), so when the new base station moved, the database still has it listed as being located in Berryessa. And since our neighborhood never gets mapped, does this mean that location services here on my street are permanently useless?
Aha… the fatal flaw in the system. Still, I am all for obfuscation of personally identifying information like physical location. Who knows what stalker might be hunting me these days?
[Update: if your location is way off — some people have been reporting that their location is thousands of miles off — then you can submit coordinates for your wireless base station here:http://www.skyhookwireless.com/howitworks/submit_ap.php … assuming you want to give that information out!]