RIM introduces new geolocation feature - No GPS required

Back during the BlackBerry Developers Conference last year, Research In Motion showed off a new, at the time yet to be released geolocation feature. The feature itself allowed developers to be able to quickly get your current location information simply based off the cell towers in which you were attached too. The idea behind this of course, is that many applications can now access your location data without ever having to initialize your device GPS which, if used often enough can severely drain your battery. As we were advised:

Today, RIM introduced a new geolocation feature of the Locate Service. The Geolocation service uses cell towers to gather quick location information and deliver it to applications on BlackBerry smartphones. Because it uses cell tower information, no GPS is required – meaning developers can have their applications call on location information in areas where there is no GPS coverage.

The location data provided by the Geolocation service is quick and general, so not as specific as GPS information, but perfect for applications that need to point to close by areas of interest or other geographical points/information without going into too many details. And once a user is back in GPS coverage, the application can call for more detailed information, if needed.

The Geolocation service joins existing capabilities in the Locate Service for the BlackBerry Application Platform, which include:

  • Reverse geocoding capabilities enable applications to convert a user’s latitude and longitude to an address
  • Integration with BlackBerry Maps Service offers a variety of app features, ranging from navigation directions to POI recommendations. BlackBerry Maps Service compliments Locate Service by providing map displays that can be invoked or embedded to indicate a user’s location

This is certainly great news for developers and BlackBerry users. These days, more and more applications seem to be relying on your GPS location data. To have a non intrusive, non power consuming way to access that data is huge. It does come with a few caveats however, you must have a device running OS 5.0+ and carriers need to support these capabilities. That said, most carriers allow this access already and well, if you're running a device with less then 5.0 you should really look into upgrading anyways.