IP addresses private data?

January 22, 2008

An EU official has told a hearing of the European Parliament that IP addresses should be regarded as personal data as they can identify users addresses and locations. This was heard in regards to inquiries into search engines and data protection. Google have said that they only use the data to improve results and relevance for users.

This has larger implications for some metrics companies and users of methods to produce mosaic breakdowns of users based on IP address.

I’ve no problem with anyone knowing my IP address in order to provide me with more accuracy in their services. However some companies base their entire business models on making use of this data and any new laws on use of IP addresses could impact them greatly. Location based services are hugely important to the webs future (in my opinion) especially to mobile web.

One to watch…


Google can find you!

November 29, 2007

If you use Google Maps on your mobile…

Google has announced a new feature on their mobile version of Google Maps which will make use of cell triangulation technology. Cell triangulation allows the nearest cellphone masts to ping your phone and work out the nearest spot to where you are located. It’s generally accurate to about a few hundred metres, more so if your in an area where there are cellphone masts in close proximity.

It’s a useful feature which could allow you to find your current location much more quickly. They should then allow you to plot a course to another destination to really make it useful.

There are some concerns about privacy but they do allow you to switch the My Location feature off. But then, who’s to know what other mobile web sites and applications could be pinpointing your position with triangulation?

This opens the way to much more useful location based services, such as ‘where’s my nearest?’, ‘how do I get to here from here?’ and ‘where the heck am I?’.

Here’s a video on the new technology:

YouTube on Google Earth

October 11, 2007

Google has just announced a new layer for Google Earth which features geotagged videos from YouTube. It’s great! As a frequent traveler and someone who works in the travel industry this is just what I need to discover new destinations.

I’m hoping that Google open up an API to YouTubes geotagging so we can integrate videos into our Google Maps implementation as well.

And while on that subject, what would be really useful would be if YouTube could add categories to it’s videos (such as travel), having access to those sorts of categories through API’s would make a lot of businesses much more willing to integrate YouTube content into their web offering (as you can avoid more of the dross).

Virgin America is looking like a great proposition for travel around the U.S. The service looks amazing, up to the standard we’ve come to expect of Virgin companies and the prices of internal U.S. flights look really hard to beat.

As ever with Virgin, it’s the little touches that set them apart from their competitors. In the video below Virgin America team up with Google to show their new Google Maps functionality in the onboard entertainment system. It’s a typically quirky video that is perfect for both Virgin and Googles brand values.

The only thing I would say about Virgin America is that they need to offer an easy switch to an HTML version of their website. Flash is great but some users don’t want to use it (even if they have the plug in).

Tired of having to code an API to get a Google map into your web page? Well now you don’t have to (at least for a basic map).

Google have announced the release of the widely anticipated embed feature for their maps tool. It’s really easy to use and means anyone with a business can now put a location map on their site. Here’s my example below of the places I stayed in Cuba earlier this year, took a whole 5 minutes to create and embed.

View Larger Map

Google have announced a new feature on Google Maps related to it’s directions feature.

Now, you know how annoying it is with all the online driving directions services when the route they return is one that you know could be quicker if a slight detour was taken. Or maybe you know of some roadworks somewhere that you want to avoid, and of course Google Maps can’t be aware of that so sends you straight for them? Or maybe you need directions to somewhere but want to make a stop off somewhere along the way which is slightly off route? Now Google Maps can give you that flexibility!

The new feature allows you to click on a point in your plotted route and drag it to another road. Doing this once will replot the route on your chosen road. A bit of an odd feature/niggle seems to be that in an area with a lot of roads it sometimes just gives you a spur off your main route, although this could be useful too. You can click on as many points on the route as you like and position them on other roads to get round this in areas where the road system is very complex.

It’s fantastic! A constant annoyance of mine is driving directions calculators that send you down the wrong route. This new feature allows for human input to a route which adds immense value. Now you could share a route with your friends and they could amend it if they know that there is a quicker way.

With Google Maps now available on mobile, I’m wondering how long it will be until Google can tie that in with a GPS receiver to turn it into a true GPS driving directions engine (watch out TomTom)!

In a long overdue move Google have announced the addition of a reviews feature to it’s Google Maps product.

This is something Yahoo announced almost two years ago for their maps product so it’s about time Google has caught up. Here in the UK it seems they’ve syndicated some review content from other sites or are scraping it in order to kick it off with some content. I really hope this feature gets used as it will make it invaluable for me. I regularly use Google Maps to find a restaurant or hotel and having user generated content associated with the locations is extremely powerful for a user like me!

As an example, here’s my favourite Japanese restaurant in Brighton (displaying a review from another website from a year ago).