Google Maps adds GSM location tech

The new 'My Location' feature in Google Maps for Mobile will automatically pinpoint your location

Google has just added a new feature to its Google Maps for Mobile application. The 'My Location' feature specifies your location even if your phone doesn't have GPS technology built-in.

This means that if you want to search for a nearby restaurant, you don't have to tap your location first. Instead, Google Maps for Mobile will automatically recognise your location and provide local listings relevant to that area.

How it works

Of course, this GSM location technology is nothing new. Most of the UK mobile operators run similar 'Find my nearest...' services, which work out a user's general location by triangulating their mobile phone signal between cell towers.

Trace A already offers a personalised mobile tracking sevice, while breakdown services such as the RAC use GSM tracking to find broken-down vehicles.

The advantage of a GSM-based service is that you can use it indoors (GPS units require direct line of sight to a satellite). And, as Google points on its website, GSM location doesn't suck out as much battery power as GPS technology stuffed into a mobile.

GPS more accurate

GPS is more accurate though - it will pinpoint your location to within a few metres. GSM technology, in comparison, is distinctly vague. It isn't able to tell what street corner you're standing on, but can give you a basic geographic starting point.

Google's ' My Location' is available now as a beta application, and will only improve as more people get to use it, a Google spokesperson said.

The new Google Maps for Mobile feature will be available on most smartphones, including the BlackBerry, new Nokia Symbian Series 60 devices, and most Windows Mobile devices. While Google Maps is available on the Apple iPhone, the 'My Location' feature isn't yet. iPhone owners will have to sit tight for Apple to roll out a firmware update.